Published On: Tue, Apr 7th, 2020

NHS volunteer guidance: When does NHS volunteering start?

More than 750,000 new NHS volunteers have reported for duty to begin the huge task of caring for those who need it most. The scheme, which is officially called the NHS Volunteer Responders Service, has been put together to coordinate and provide vital services across the country.

When does NHS volunteering start?

The Royal Voluntary Service will have completed checks on the applications by the end of Tuesday, April 7.

Approved volunteers can then pick which tasks they want to complete in their local area.

Tasks include delivering food and medicines, drive patients to appointments and phone people in isolation.

The volunteering is organised through an app called GoodSam, where health professionals, pharmacists, and local authorities can upload requests for help from Tuesday.

Dubbed the ‘National Help Service’, volunteers have been tasked mostly with helping the UK’s 2.5 million vulnerable individuals who are currently ‘shielding’ from coronavirus.

Jobs include delivering vital prescriptions, driving patients to key medical appointments, using the phone and internet to talk to people who live alone, and transporting and delivering vital NHS supplies.

The original plan was to recruit 250,000 healthy helpers after launching the scheme, but as the reality of how much help would be needed, 750,000 helpers have been recruited.

Madhava Kumar said: “I am verified up and running as an NHS Volunteer Responder, ready to collect and deliver medication and essentials to vulnerable members of my local community. #NHSVolunteerResponder #heretohelp #covid19UK”

Ian Woods, a former journalist for Sky News, said: “Some quick news about me. I’ve come to the end of my 25 year shift at Sky News.

“I leave with fantastic memories from all over the world.

“Not the best time to be going freelance, but it seemed like a great idea back in December!

“Looking forward to being an NHS volunteer driver.”

The Duchess of Cornwall is president of the Royal Voluntary Service, which has helped to organise the new NHS Volunteer Responders force.

She expressed her “warmest thanks to all the responders who have come forward in unprecedented numbers to offer help to the NHS”.

The Duchess added: “Royal Voluntary Service has been working with the NHS to recruit people in England who can assist those who are most in need of practical and emotional support at this time.

“Thankfully, the charity has a long and remarkable history of bringing willing volunteers together with the isolated and lonely. That experience is needed more than ever in these challenging times.

“And today many more NHS Volunteer Responders will get in touch with the people they have so kindly offered to help.

“Everyone working in the NHS is under unimaginable pressure day and night in this crisis.

“I feel sure that the presence of so many wonderful volunteers will encourage, as well as support, them.

“I salute each one of you – and thank you with all my heart.”

The Prime Minister, who is currently in intensive care in St Thomas’ Hospital in London, offered his thanks last month.

He said: “Special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS.

“And to all of you, and all the former NHS staff who are coming back into the service, I say thank you on behalf of the entire country.”

The First Secretary Dominic Raab is deputising for him in his absence.

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