Prime Minister praises public response as more than 400,000 sign up to be NHS volunteers
More than 400,000 people have signed up to be volunteers for the NHS in just 24 hours, according to the Prime Minister.
Speaking at the daily press conference inside Number 10, Boris Johnson said he wanted to offer a “special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS”.
He added: “When we launched the appeal last night, we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days.
“But I can tell you that in just 24 hours, 405,000 people have responded to the call.”
The mass sign-up follows Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s request for a quarter-of-a-million people to donate their time to help the 1.5 million people isolating for 12 weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Mr Johnson said the volunteers would be “absolutely crucial” in the fight against the illness, and that the number signed up was equivalent to the population of Coventry.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “We are truly amazed by the number of people who want to come and help us in the war against coronavirus.
“I would like to thank every last one of you who are offering your time – you will without a doubt help us to save lives.
“Our NHS needs you – whether it’s by volunteering or simply staying at home – you are helping your families, communities and protecting our NHS.”
Anyone who is over the age of 18, fit and healthy and non-symptomatic can offer their time to the scheme.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised the “overwhelming response” to the call for volunteers to help the vulnerable and thanked those who will devote their time to the health service.
He said: “Times like this show just how generous the British people are and how much they value our health service – we are blown away by this response and the kindness of our country.
“I can’t thank those enough who have pledged to devote their time to helping others at what is a challenging and uncertain time for you and your families.
“The NHS is always there for you – now is your time to be there for us too.”
Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick called NHS staff “absolute heroes … working round the clock to support us as a country” and provided more detail on what the volunteers may be doing.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that there would be a variety of jobs available, including parcel delivery and driving.
They may also be asked to drive people to appointments or make regular phone calls to those in isolation, the NHS said.
Mr Jenrick added: “We need to get volunteers into this collective national effort to support the NHS, to support social care, and in particular to support the 1.5 million people who for specific clinical reasons we’re shielding.”
GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for at-risk patients through a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service, which will match people who need help with volunteers who live near them.
People can sign up to the service at www.goodsamapp.org/NHS.
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