Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for 250,000 volunteers to assist with the national effort to tackle coronavirus, help the NHS and support the vulnerable.
He also announced that more than 35,000 extra NHS staff would be joining the fight against the virus, including retired doctors and nurses returning to the service and final year students joining the frontline.
Mr Hancock said: “Today we launch NHS volunteers.
“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.”
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Mr Hancock said 11,788 recently retired NHS staff had responded to the call to return to the service.
They included 2,660 doctors, more than 2,500 pharmacists and other staff and 6,147 nurses.
“I pay tribute to each and every one of those who is returning to the NHS at its hour of need,” Mr Hancock said.
Some 5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses would “move to the frontline” next week.
Mr Hancock also confirmed that a temporary hospital – the NHS Nightingale hospital – would be opening at London’s Excel centre.
He said the new hospital for 4,000 people will open next week at the Excel Centre in east London after being set up with the help of the military.
Mr Hancock said: “We will, next week, open a new hospital – a temporary hospital – the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel centre in London.
“The NHS Nightingale Hospital will comprise two wards, each of 2,000 people.
“With the help of the military and with NHS clinicians we will make sure that we have the capacity that we need so that everyone can get the support that they need.”