COVID-19 has been the single greatest public health emergency in the history of the NHS. The response of current NHS staff and those who have come forward to help out – whether the tens of thousands of former staff and students, or the hundreds of thousands of volunteers – has been nothing short of inspirational, and played a major role in the first phase of the pandemic.
At the same time as pulling out all the stops to ensure everyone who needed care has been able to get it, NHS people have also contributed to the important global effort to develop safe and effective vaccines for the virus, working closely with research partners.
While we don’t yet know which vaccines will be approved for use and when, the NHS is preparing extensively to begin delivering them as soon as they are able to.
This will be a huge task. The NHS has agreed a contract with GPs to ensure we benefit from their vast experience in delivering immunisations, but vaccinating millions of people as quickly as possible – at the same time as keeping other vital services going – will require lots more staff.
Can you help?
To help ensure that the NHS is able to deliver a large-scale vaccination programme without significantly impacting on other vital services, the NHS are now recruiting thousands of roles, including vaccinators, while also working with partners to build a bank of volunteers who can support vaccine services.
The Department for Health and Social Care recently changed the law to allow a wider group of staff to undertake training to deliver vaccines. This includes many allied health professionals, healthcare scientists and dental staff, as well as other individuals with appropriate first aid training, who are able to undertake additional comprehensive training; so opportunities for flexible, paid roles are open to lots of people.
The NHS has also asked St John Ambulance to help coordinate the training and deployment of thousands of volunteers who can help ensure the safe and smooth running of vaccination services. The NHS will work with a range of other voluntary groups.
In all cases, full training and appropriate supervision and personal protective equipment will be available to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and patients.
For vaccinator roles: NHS Professionals – the flexible workforce provider for the NHS – are leading on recruiting and training people for the new vaccinator roles across the different COVID-19 vaccination services that will be set up over the coming months.
Some jobs will also be advertised by local NHS employers, so you may also want to keep an eye on NHS Jobs for roles in your area.
For those interested in volunteering: St John Ambulance is currently working through the charity’s existing networks to sign up vaccination volunteers – they are not opening recruitment to members of the public more widely at this stage.
In the meantime, members of the public who are able to support their neighbours and the NHS through a number of roles – including food or medication deliveries, lifts to medical appointments or ‘check-in and chat’ phone calls – can do so through the NHS Volunteer Responder programme.
NHS Volunteer Responder will have further roles available supporting the COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the future.
Local NHS Trusts also have their own volunteer schemes and you can check their websites for details.
For retired clinicians interested in a paid role: Please see the NHS returning clinicians webpage.