Thousands of people have signed up as NHS volunteers in recent weeks to help during the coronavirus crisis – but many are saying they are still unable to help those in need.
Volunteers who have downloaded the GoodSAM Responder app – a platform used for emergency alerting – have reported they have marked themselves as ready to help but have not yet received a single request.
Dan Ryan, who signed up as a volunteer in Warwickshire, said: ‘I think the app is an excellent idea and it’s great that it has been repurposed for the response to Covid-19.
‘At the moment the app is struggling to adapt to how many people have volunteered. I’ve been ‘on duty’ for 29 hours and have received no alerts.
‘I imagine that once this gets up and running properly it will be really vital.’
The Royal Voluntary Service, which is coordinating NHS volunteers for the Covid-19 response, tweeted yesterday saying ‘thousands of responders are now able to report for duty’.
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But huge numbers of people have tweeted saying they have had no requests, although they thought there would be lots of people self-isolating who would be in great need of help.
Chris Mann wrote: ‘My second week ‘on duty’ but not a single request. I’ve resorted to contacting the council directly to try and put me in touch to support anyone in need.
‘Waste of time asking for volunteers if you don’t know what to do with them.’
Mikey Hall said: ‘I’m the same, thought this would keep me busy. Not one call.’
Stephanie Le Geyt tweeted: ‘I’ve had this responder app open for over a week since my application was accepted and I haven’t had anything come through.
‘Is the app working? Seems a bit of a waste of hundreds of thousands of people wanting to volunteer.’
A spokesman from GoodSAM Responder app said: ‘As you can imagine there are three to four million volunteers and referrals from agencies have only started coming through this week.
‘Many thousands are being tasked as they come through, but that means many people will not have been assigned volunteer tasks yet.’
Confirming there is ‘no technical problem’, the spokesman added: ‘As more referrals come through, more people will be alerted.
‘We understand everyone’s keenness to help, but we can only task people when that help is requested.’
Responding to a person who said they had not yet received any requests for help, the NHS Royal Voluntary Service said: ‘Adding patients and recipients to the app is a gradual and developing process as more healthcare professionals and local authorities refer people who need help in greater numbers.
‘Thank you for your patience on this.’
The NHS said it has temporarily paused its recruitment of volunteers since 29 March to catch up on signing up the initial 750,000 applications, which are taking longer to process than originally expected.
The Royal Voluntary Service has been contacted for further comment.
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