Demand for Scottish volunteer scheme to help NHS and pupils

A volunteer scheme, similar to that in England, should be introduced to help Scotland’s NHS during the coronavirus outbreak, it was claimed today.

Scots Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs has called for the Scottish Government to launch a volunteer initiative to help the NHS.

Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs, said thousands of Scots were ready to help the NHS, yet there was still no scheme available to direct their efforts.

Yesterday, UK health secretary Matt Hancock said members of the public, who showed no symptoms of the virus, could help out hospitals and patients with a range of tasks, and called for a “volunteer army” of 250,000.

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Some 170,000 people have already registered to be volunteers to help the vulnerable, and will deliver food and medicines, drive patients to appointments and phone the isolated.

Now the Scots Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs has said the Scottish Government should create a similar scheme. “So far, both the Scottish and UK governments have worked really well together as we face this unprecedented crisis. Now this volunteering scheme has been set up for England, this would be another good way for both to collaborate,” he said.

“Thousands of Scots would have seen this announcement and immediately looked into it, only to find it was just those living south of the border who could get involved.

“Hopefully now the Scottish Government will follow suit and harness the amazing goodwill that is out there. Ordinary people are desperate to help out our amazing NHS at this crucial time.

“Scots help out fellow Scots when they are facing tough times. That’s just how Scotland works and that’s exactly what we are all going to have to do.”

A plea has also been made for the government to recruit an “army of online tutors” to ensure children learning at home don’t fall behind.

Former Director of Education, Keir Bloomer, said the government body Education Scotland, should launch a drive to recruit tutors to help school pupils trying to learn from home. He said the national agency Education Scotland had the capacity and experience to put such a programme together quickly.

Mr Bloomer said: “As John Swinney said last week, when quite rightly announcing the school closure, this is the first time our national education system has ever been completely shut down.

“This has significant implications for children’s education and for their social isolation, and evidence suggests that disadvantaged children will suffer the most.

“Parents will want to do their best but will need support, and the Commission is clear that Education Scotland can help by recruiting an army of online tutors from the ranks of retired teachers and teaching students to supplement the excellent online work being done by existing class teachers.

“Nobody can make this a normal time for a child’s education, but we can make it less harmful, and we must make it better for the vulnerable children who stand to suffer the most.”

The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.