If you’re looking to help the UK’s frontline health workers during the coronavirus pandemic, here’s how to register for the NHS Volunteer Army.
The biggest thing we can do for our NHS right now is stay at home. We can also stop panic-buying food, so that there is enough available for frontline health workers to buy after a shift. And at 8 pm on Thursday (26 March), we will all show our appreciation and respect for our NHS heroes by clapping in unison from our balconies, gardens and front doors.
Now, the government has shared a new way people can help: join the NHS Volunteer Army.
Health minister Matt Hancock made the announcement on Tuesday (24 March) during the Downing Street press conference.
He said: “I know how worried people are and while this is a great time of turbulence, it is a moment too that the country can come together in that national effort.
“As the next step in that effort, today we launch NHS Volunteers. We are seeking a quarter of million volunteers – people in good health – to help the NHS, for shopping, in delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health.”
Hancock also announced plans to transform London’s Excel Centre into an emergency hospital, known as the NHS Nightingale Hospital, with capacity to treat 4,000 coronavirus patients.
And he confirmed that more than 11,700 retired doctors, nurses and health professional have returned to the NHS following a government appeal for medics to return to the frontline,
Here’s everything we know about the NHS Volunteer Army.
What is the NHS Volunteer Army?
The NHS is looking for up to 250,000 volunteers to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will be able to request help for at-risk patients via a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with nearby volunteers.
What will I do as an NHS volunteer?
According the NHS website, volunteers can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:
– delivering medicines from pharmacies
– driving patients to appointments
– bringing them home from hospital
– or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.
Who can join the NHS Volunteer Army?
Volunteers must be 18 or over, and fit and well with no symptoms. Those in higher-risk groups (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) will be able to offer support by telephone.
How do I sign up for NHS Volunteer Army?
You can sign up on the NHS Volunteer Responders website. Once you have registered and checks are complete you will be provided a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app. Switch the app to ‘on duty’, and you’ll see live and local volunteer tasks to pick from nearby.