NHS volunteers will begin receiving their first tasks today as they come to the aid of 2.5 million people at risk because of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 750,000 people – three times the original target – signed up to join the “volunteer army” in the war against the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK.
The Royal Voluntary Service, the charity spearheading the effort, will have completed checks for the high volume of applications by the end of Tuesday.
When will volunteers begin tasks?
Thousands of approved volunteers will be offered tasks from today via the GoodSAM app and will start helping people.
More volunteers are expected to get requests over the coming weeks as referrals increase.
Health professionals, pharmacists and local authorities can upload requests for help on a special portal.
Volunteers will pick up the job they want to do that day and close the task once they have completed it.
Volunteers show themselves as available when their app is switched to “on duty”.
What will volunteers be doing?
- Delivering medicines from pharmacies
- Driving patients to and from hospital appointments
- Making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home
- Transporting medical supplies and equipment for the NHS
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want to thank every single person who signed up to be an NHS volunteer responder.
“Their incredible generosity means we can now start helping those most in need across our communities and, in turn, support our heroic NHS staff and social care staff as they continue their outstanding work.
“Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our country has faced, and it is truly awe inspiring to see our whole nation coming together to help each other at this difficult time.”
The Duchess of Cornwall also thanked thousands of volunteers who have “so kindly offered to help” the NHS through the crisis.
Camilla, president of the Royal Voluntary Service, also said: “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.”
Camilla, 72, tested negative for coronavirus, but isolated for 14 days after Prince Charles contracted the highly contagious respiratory infection.
Meanwhile, the latest official figures showed a further 439 patients have died in the UK after contracting the coronavirus – bringing the total to 5,373.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spent the night in intensive care after his coronavirus symptoms worsened and he suffered breathing difficulties.
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