Students step up to help NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic

Hundreds of students have stepped up to help NHS workers in GreaterManchester during the coronavirus pandemic.

Food shopping, baby-sitting and manning GPs' receptions are just someof the tasks students are taking on to ease the burden on healthworkers.

The 'army of students' was the brainchild of Saif Khan, a fourth yearmedical student at the University of Manchester.

Saif noticed the concerns of NHS workers on social media, with manyworried about balancing their home life with the demands of their jobduring the coronavirus outbreak.

He put an appeal out on social media for volunteers and was inundatedwith offers to help from fellow students.

More than 450 students have now signed up to the Manchester NationalHealth Supporters network.

Saif said: "Within just a few days we have created a movement acrossthe country of students who have NHS workers’ backs. We’re here tohelp them so they can focus on the day job.

"We’re in a unique position - unlike final year students we can’t befast-tracked into junior doctor level posts, but we all have DBSchecks and first aid training to help NHS workers with babysitting andworking in GP surgeries on reception."

Rachael Middleton, 22, also a fourth year medical student, has chosento stay in Manchester so she can support the NHS.

She currently helps a GP out with baby-sitting and volunteers atSalford Royal Hospital's A&E unit. Her duties include running bloodsamples to the lab and re-stocking staff's PPE.

Rachael said: "A lot of us have time on our hands and wanted to dosomething to help.

"We're not yet fully qualified so we can't help in a clinicalcapacity, but we can help those who need to go to work.

"This is something that's really simple that will hopefully make a difference.

"I help a family who have a nine-year-old boy. His father works as aGP so he's working long hours.

"I help his son with homework or playing games. It's fun for me.

"Other people I know are picking up groceries for people who don'thave a car or the time to go shopping.

"We help anyone who works for the NHS. Doctors, nurses, health care assistants.

"I know people who are taking extra shifts and cancelling annual leave.

"Everyone I know from my year wants to help – it comes with our profession.”

Manchester National Health Supporters' services are being promoted inhospitals across Greater Manchester and it is keen to take morevolunteers.

Professor Felicity Stewart, director of undergraduate medical studiesat the University of Manchester, said: “We are very proud of ourstudents and their generous contribution to the crucial work in ourcity on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.”