The Speaker
Saturday, 20 April 2024 – 22:15

Government calls for a quarter of a million NHS volunteers and announces new makeshift hospital

The UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the government is seeking a quarter of a million NHS volunteers to help during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Volunteers will need to be in good health and will help the NHS support vulnerable persons. Mr Hancock said;

“We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health to help the NHS, for shopping, for the delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielding to protect their own health”

The Health Secretary said 11,788 people had so far responded to a previous call for former NHS staff to return to the service, including 2600 doctors, 6,147 nurses and over 2,500 other professionals. He added that 5,550 final year medics and 18,700 final year student nurses would be joining the service on the frontline.


Mr Hancock has also said that a temporary makeshift hospital will open in the ExCeL Centre in London. The makeshift hospital will be called the Nightingale Hospital and will have two wards, both having the capacity for 2,000 people. The hospital will be set up with the help of the military.

The announcements came during Downing Street’s daily Coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, which was held digitally for the first time.

Questions and concerns were raised during the press conference about some employees who considered their work to be non-essential but had been told by their employer that they had to come into work. Mr Hancock said the government would enforce the closure of the businesses and retailers it has already set out.

Asked about the issues of overcrowding on the London Underground, Mr Hancock said Transport for London should have the tube running in full so that people can observe the 2m social distancing rule. He said that he had seen no reason for the number of current tube services to be as low as they are.

Mr Hancock said the government has purchased 3 million anti-body tests and these will be available very soon for patients and NHS staff. A new testing facility is opening in Milton Keynes today and 7.5 million items of PPE have been shipped in the last 24 hours.


If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an NHS volunteer, as described by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in today’s Coronavirus press conference from Downing Street, you can visit

Photo Credit: Counse via Flickr under licence (CC BY 2.0)

Skip to content