How do you apply to be an NHS Covid volunteer and what will you be doing?

The NHS has partnered with St John's Ambulance to recruit volunteers

With fears of Omicron spreading and boosters being made available to all, the NHS has warned it will struggle to cope and called for an army of volunteers to assist with the rise in demand - so what can you do to help?

The booster programme has been extended in England, and over-18s will be offered a third Covid jab by the end of the year. The target for giving every eligible adult a booster dose has been brought forward by a month over fears of what the prime minister called a "tidal wave of Omicron" that could cause "very many deaths".

In order to offer all eligible adults a booster as soon as possible, the government is aiming to vaccinate a million people a day.To deal with this surge in demand, last week Amanda Pritchard, NHS England chief executive, announced the NHS had partnered with the Royal Voluntary Service and St John's Ambulance to find as many volunteers as possible.

She also said the NHS would be recruiting 10,000 new paid vaccinators.

All people over the age of 18 now qualify for a booster Credit: PA

Ms Pritchard said she knew the NHS would not be able to handle the expansion of the vaccination programme "alone" adding, "so I really hope that, once again, we will see volunteers coming forward to help what is still a vital national effort".

In a Covid press conference on Wednesday, as he again urged the public to get their booster jabs, Boris Johnson said a “territorial army” is emerging to fight the spread of Covid-19.

He told a Downing Street press conference: “Since Sunday night, we have seen more than 20,000 new volunteers signing up to help with the booster effort as stewards, taking the total number to almost 33,000.

“With every day we are expanding the ranks of these healthcare auxiliaries, an emerging territorial army of the NHS in a race against time to get those jabs in arms and save lives.”

Why does the NHS need more volunteers?

The NHS has warned the new drive has meant the vaccination programme is now “significantly more complex” than it was at the start.

This is due to handling first, second and third doses on top of the separate vaccination drive in schools all at the same time.

The NHS is also under significant pressure trying to deal with the backlog caused by the pandemic, meaning there is very little spare capacity to handle further demand.

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Dr Ammara Hughes, who works at a GP surgery in London told ITV News: "If we're going to deliver up boosters then we're going to need to know what we're going to stop doing."

She said patient care could "potentially suffer" unless "extensive workforce is found quite quickly because we can't do it all."

At least 400 military personnel have also been deployed by the government to assist with the vaccination programme.

What are the requirements to be a Covid volunteer?

To qualify to apply to be an NHS Covid volunteer, you need to live in England and be over the age of 18.

The other three nations of the UK all have their own volunteering system to help with the vaccine rollout.

You also need to have access to a smartphone as your work assignments will be sent to you via the GoodSAM app.

Support is available for those who are not familiar with using smartphones and apps.

The NHS also encourages you to consider your own health position, because if you are vulnerable to Covid then it may be better to consider a home, telephone-based role.

You also need to be regularly available to volunteer.

Different areas of England also need different numbers of volunteers, you can find out which local authorities are recruiting Covid vaccine volunteers here.

What jobs do the volunteers need to do?

On the NHS volunteering website, several roles are advertised with many focusing on generally supporting a community rather than specifically helping with Covid and vaccinations.

If you do wish to help with Covid vaccinations then you should apply to be a steward.

The government and top NHS executives have thanked volunteers for the role they played during the first vaccination drive. Credit: ITV

The role involves managing people as they arrive at the vaccination centre, making sure you have their correct details and then pointing them to the right person to administer their jab.

This role will require volunteers to commit to at least two shifts at a vaccination site each month. Shifts are up to four hours long.

Shifts will be offered to you via the GoodSAM app, all you will need to do is put in the hours you are available and wait to be notified.

The NHS website says it could be several days before you're offered your first shift, but it will happen eventually.

Stewards will also need to care for patients' needs both before and after they received their vaccine and will be trained on how to spot if someone needs help.

What about vaccinators?

St John's Ambulance has trained 30,000 people to be NHS volunteer vaccinators.

The training regime sees volunteers receive appropriate clinical training as mandated by the NHS.

Volunteer vaccinators are regularly observed at each vaccination site to ensure the safety of all patients and volunteers.

The NHS is recruiting thousands of vaccinators across England Credit: PA

Currently, according to St John's Ambulance's website, they are not seeking any more volunteer vaccinators, but people can register interest if any more roles do open up.

Richard Lee, chief operating officer at St John Ambulance, said their charity's vaccination volunteers have provided more than 800,000 hours of their time so far and was committed to providing even more through the winter.

What about the paid roles?

The paid roles are currently being advertised through the NHS's jobs website.

Contracts range from zero-hours to fixed-term and pay starts at around £15 an hour rising to £25 in some places.

You will need to be a qualified vaccinator to apply.