Frontline health and care staff in England will now be able to access support from NHS volunteer responders, the Department of Health and Social Care announced on Saturday.
NHS volunteers carry out socially distanced tasks – including helping to deliver food shopping and dropping off personal medication – to support people in England who need help accessing essentials or who are at risk of loneliness.
The DHSC said the move will help health and social care workers make fewer journeys and come into contact with fewer people, therefore reducing risk for themselves and those they care for.
Minister for care Helen Whatley said the scheme was extended following its ‘vital role’ in helping to protect those who need to shield or self-isolate.
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The scheme is now available to anyone who has been advised to shield by a health professional, is vulnerable for another reason (for example, disability, pregnancy or over 70), is self-isolating or has caring responsibilities.
Over 285,000 volunteer tasks have been carried out since the beginning of April as part of the scheme, which was developed by NHS England in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service and facilitated by the Good Sam app.
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 PPE to care homes.
The NHS and Royal Voluntary Service continues to encourage those needing support to self-refer by calling 0808 196 3646.