Thursday 26 March 2020 9:19 am

NHS gets 560,000 volunteers to help fight coronavirus

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said 560,000 people have volunteered to help the National Health Service as it struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

The figure is more than double the number Hancock initially asked for on Tuesday. The health secretary said it is “fantastic” that so many people had “responded to our call to volunteer to support our NHS to defeat coronavirus”.

Read more: Hancock calls for 250,000 coronavirus volunteers as government readies London mega hospital

NHS England tweeted: “Thank you so much to everyone who has signed up to help some of the most vulnerable people in their communities.”

The surge in numbers came after Hancock and the NHS on Tuesday called for a volunteer “army” to help the health service.

Volunteers, who must be fit and healthy and be able to pass a criminal record check, will help deliver medicines from pharmacies, drive patients to appointments and bring them home from hospital, and make phone calls to check on people who are self-isolating.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday said 405,000 people had signed up within 24 hours. He said he wanted to offer them a “special thanks” in his daily coronavirus press briefing. The PM added that volunteers “will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus”.

The surge in volunteers came as the NHS struggles to manage the stress placed upon it by the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 450 people in the UK have died from Covid-19, while there have been more than 9,500 cases.

Read more: Coronavirus: FTSE 100 falls ahead of US unemployment figures

The UK’s public health service has come under pressure due to the demand for ventilators and intensive care beds.

Today, the government said it will buy 10,000 ventilators from Dyson, the firm famous for its vacuum cleaners. Dyson said it has designed a new ventilator in response to a call from the NHS.