Matt Hancock: NHS needs 250,000 volunteers to fight coronavirus

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronav

Health Secretary Matt Hancock speaking during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 24, 2020. Photo credit: PA Video/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The government has sent out a rallying call to recruit some 250,000 volunteers to support the NHS through what is one of the greatest challenges it has ever faced.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said a quarter of a million people are needed to assist with the national effort to tackle coronavirus, help the NHS and support the vulnerable.

In a government briefing on Tuesday, he said more than 35,000 extra NHS staff have already joined up to help the fight against the virus, including retired doctors and nurses returning to the service and final year students.

He also confirmed that a temporary hospital - the NHS Nightingale hospital - would be opening at London’s ExCeL centre.

The health secretary has also announced that a new hotline had been set up that frontline health staff can call if they are running low on supplies and promised a “military effort” to get the equipment to workers.

He said that 7.5 million pieces of protective equipment including face masks had been shipped out to frontline workers in the past day.

It comes after global shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been reported.

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NHS staff have raised concerns that they are being put at risk when caring for Covid-19 patients because they do not have the proper protective equipment.

During the daily Downing Street briefing on coronavirus, Mr Hancock said: “Many, many people across the NHS are asking for more personal protective equipment (PPE).

“I can tell you that over the last 24 hours we have shipped 7.5 million pieces of protective equipment, especially the masks, the so called FFP3 masks, which are very important to get out.

“And there is now a hotline so if you are in the NHS or social care, including in pharmacy, if you don’t have the PPE that you need then we will get it to you.

“That is literally a military effort to get these millions of pieces of kit out to people.

“If people are working on the frontline to look after us, it is vital that we look after them.”

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