An appeal for volunteers to support the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak that was launched yesterday evening has reached 170,000 sign-ups overnight.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, last night announced the move to recruit 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS.
The volunteers are being asked to help the NHS support the 1.5 million people who have been recommended to self-isolate for three months because underlying health conditions put them at greater risk from the coronavirus.
The NHS volunteer responders will be called on to do simple tasks such as delivering medicine from pharmacies, driving patients to and from appointments and bringing them home from hospital, and making regular phone calls to check in on those who are isolating at home.
A report on the BBC News website said the appeal had already exceeded its 250,000 target, but a spokeswoman for NHS England said the body was not aware of that being the case.
In a statement accompanying the launch of the scheme, Hancock said: “In these extraordinary times, it’s essential that we all pull together as part of the national effort to protect the most vulnerable, reduce pressure on our NHS and care system and save lives.
“If you are well and able to do so safely, I would urge you to sign up today to help the most vulnerable people in our communities as an NHS volunteer responder.
“Your help has the potential to make a real difference to some of those most affected by this outbreak, from delivering essential prescriptions to calling to check on the wellbeing of those who are self-isolating.”
Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of the RVS, said: “Human compassion comes to the fore at times of great crisis.
“We saw that when RVS was founded during the outbreak of the Second World War, when a million women stepped forward to help those in need.
“In 2020 we find ourselves once again facing a daunting national challenge.
“We are proud to support the NHS at this important moment and we are certain many thousands of people will selflessly step up to play their parts.”
Members of the public can sign up at goodsamapp.org/NHS.
Volunteers will need to have training and background checks appropriate to the roles that they sign up for and will need to upload identity documents, driving licences where relevant and confirmation that they have insurance if needed.