Coronavirus: UK seeking 250,000 NHS volunteers during crisis

The Health Secretary has launched a scheme seeking 250,000 volunteers to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.


Speaking during the government’s daily briefing, Matt Hancock said the volunteers – who are in good health – would help the NHS with shopping and delivery of medicines, and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health.

He said: “The NHS Volunteer Responders is a new scheme set up so that people can come and help and to make sure that the NHS, and the local services that are needed, get all the support that they can.”

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Mr Hancock said 11,788 former NHS workers have answered the government’s call to return to work.

Of that, Mr Hancock said 2,660 doctors, more than 2,500 other health professionals and pharmacists and 6,147 nurses will be returning.

“I pay tribute to each and every one of those who is returning to the NHS at its hour of need,” Mr Hancock added.

“In addition, from next week, 5,500 final year medics and 18,700 final year student nurses will move to the front line to make sure we have the people we need in our NHS to respond to this crisis.

“In total, that’s over 35,000 more staff coming to the NHS when the country needs the NHS most.”

The Health Secretary also announced that next week the government will open a new temporary hospital, called the NHS Nightingale Hospital.

It will open at the ExCeL centre, in East London, and will comprise two wards each of 2,000 people. Mr Hancock said the military and NHS clinicians will help to make sure everyone can get the support they need.

The Health Secretary confirmed that a further 87 people have died in the UK after contracting the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 422.

He urged the public to follow the ‘significant steps’ that Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined last night.

These mean people can only leave the house if they are: shopping for basic necessities; undertaking their one form of exercise for that day; in need of medical attention or to care for a vulnerable person; or travelling to work if absolutely necessary.

Mr Hancock added: “The more we follow the rules, the sooner we will stop the spread.

“So everybody has a responsibility to follow those rules and, where possible, to stay at home.

“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.

“No matter how big we grow the NHS, unless we slow the spread of this virus then, as we’ve seen, those numbers will continue to rise and that’s why it’s so important that everyone follows the advice and stays at home.”