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The NHS “army of volunteers” could be a Cummings masterstroke

March 26th, 2020

But the details need to be worked out

The main pandemic story for several of the tabloids this morning is the announcement that the government is building up an army of NHS volunteers to help in the fight against the coronavirus

In a way this is simply building and what is already happening. I’m in my mid 70s and even before the announcement notes were being popped through the door about an effort by some people in our street to help with things like shopping and getting medications.

Common threats like the coronavirus do bring out the best in people and the question is how is this going to be organised in a manner that the volunteers and the people being helped are comfortable with.

An immediate problem is shopping and all the panic buying that has been going on. The main supermarkets have all designated particular times during the week when the elderly get priority and exclusive access to the shops. I assume this will extended to the NHS volunteers for it makes sense to do so. If that is the case what is the stop the volunteers using their privileged supermarket access for their own requirements?

Another possible issue is cash. Most shopping now is done by card and how are those being helped going to reimburse the volunteers to pay for their goods? Being confined to their homes limits access to cash machines and they may not have the actual money available.

You can see rows developing that make tabloid headlines of those being helped claiming that an NHS volunteer has run off with the money or has shortchanged them in some way.

Whatever the overall idea is a good one particularly if the lockdown lasts for several months.

Mike Smithson