NHS Volunteer Responders: communications information for referrers

April 2020

Health and social care professionals in England are being encouraged to refer individuals highly vulnerable to coronavirus for support through the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme.  Currently, 750,000 volunteers have volunteered to take part in NHS Volunteer Responders scheme.

NHS England and NHS Improvement has published guidance for health professionals to explain how the programme works and how to refer patients for support.

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers in England are now available for tasks including collecting shopping and prescribed medicines, driving patients to medical appointments and home from hospital, making phone calls to people isolating at home and transporting medical supplies and equipment for the NHS.

Health and social care professionals, including GPs, health visitors, pharmacists, midwives and local authority staff can make requests by submitting details online via the NHS Volunteer Responders referrers’ portal or by calling 0808 196 3382.

Social care providers can make referrals directly if they have an nhs.net or gov.uk email address. Without one, they will need to await approval which may take up to 72 hours, or they can make referrals through their local authority.

You can also use the portal to track when the patient receives support, or to remove someone from the scheme if they no longer need assistance.

The service, commissioned by NHS England, is being delivered by the Royal Voluntary Service. All approved volunteers have undergone appropriate ID checks, with an enhanced DBS check for those volunteering as patient transport drivers.

You can refer people who are at high risk from coronavirus where no local support is available, for example: if they have been asked to self-isolate and ‘shield’; if they are over 70 and have underlying health conditions; or if they are self-isolating and you consider them to be especially vulnerable.

Volunteers can also support organisations by transporting supplies by car, such as equipment, medicines or PPE.

Please continue to make use of your local schemes where they exist and please talk to your patients if in doubt about whether they require support.