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Nurses can now request support from the volunteers who signed up to strengthen England’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, the government has announced.
From today, the “NHS Volunteer Responders” will be able to provide frontline health and care professionals with help with simple tasks such as shopping and collecting personal medication.
“We want to support them in whatever way we can to make their lives easier”
The government said it hoped the extension of the scheme would reduce the chances of staff contracting Covid-19 and passing it on to patients by limiting their need to travel and come into contact with people outside of work.
The NHS Volunteer Responders have been in action since the start of April and have so far been focused on supporting members of the public who are shielding or isolating at home, and carers.
As well as practical help accessing essentials, the volunteers have also been offering companionship and emotional support to people who may be feeling alone during the crisis.
The programme is also providing support to NHS and local authorities with transport tasks such as delivering blood pressure monitors to patients or transporting small quantities of personal protective equipment to care homes.
The extension of the offer to health and care professionals was announced over the weekend by care minister Helen Whately to coincide with Volunteers Week 2020.
Ms Whately said: “The NHS Volunteer Responders have played a vital role in our response to coronavirus, and I am hugely thankful for their support.
“Their selfless efforts to protect those who need to shield or self-isolate has helped stop the spread of the virus and alleviated pressure on health and care services during this unprecedented pandemic.
“Our staff are our biggest resource”
“Following the success of the volunteers scheme, support is now being extended to all our wonderful health and care staff who continue to go above and beyond.
“We want to support them in whatever way we can to make their lives easier while they continue to support others most in need.”
Neil Churchill, director of patient experience, participation and equalities at NHS England, said it was “fantastic” to see the support extended to health staff who remained on the front line of the pandemic.
The extension of the scheme was also welcomed by Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England.
He added: “Our staff are our biggest resource and we know that the scheme will make a difference in reducing the potential for staff to come into contact with Covid-19.”
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme was developed by NHS England in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service and facilitated by the Good Sam app.
The announcement was made as part of the move into the next phase of the government’s response to Covid-19 following the initial peak of the virus.
It was also revealed on Friday that all hospital staff in England will be expected to wear surgical masks from 15 June, while all visitors and outpatients will be expected to wear face coverings at all times.
To request support from the volunteer service, call 0808 196 3646 or visit the website.