NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised the “overwhelming response” and thanked those who will devote their time to the health service.
Sir Simon Stevens 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.”
The volunteers will start roles from next week and help the 1.5 million who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
Thanks to the surge of help, the NHS is now extending its target to recruit 750,000 people to its army of volunteers. People can still join the trusted list of volunteers by visiting goodsamapp.org/NHS and adding their details to the NHS section.
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.”
Members of the public can sign up as NHS Volunteer Responders and opt to do a number of roles, including:
- delivering medicines from pharmacies
- driving patients to appointments
- bringing them home from hospital
- making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home
The health service has joined up with the RVS and the GoodSAM app – a digital tool to help people offer their services.
Chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, Catherine Johnstone CBE said: “In times like this you can really see the best in humanity – small gestures of compassion and connection that allow us to show who we are and what matters to us. Coronavirus has created an emergency that requires us to act, and act selflessly in order to protect the most vulnerable in our communities – no matter what our social status or who we vote for.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the number of people who have stepped forward and volunteered to be part of the NHS Volunteer Responders but we are also not surprised – Royal Voluntary Service witnessed a similar response during the outbreak of WW2 when a million women came forward to help those most in need.
“Over the past 80 years Royal Voluntary Service has been aiding the health service by mobilising volunteers to support those in need in communities and hospitals. Today we face an even greater task – and we are proud to support the NHS at this important time to protect those most vulnerable. Together we can look out for each other and in doing so support the NHS at this vital time.”
Dr Mark Wilson, GoodSAM co-founder said: “It’s fantastic to be helping the wonderful volunteer community come together to support the NHS and society in this time of need.”