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How Community Pharmacies can utilise NHS Volunteer Responders

  • Wales
  • England
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland

Guidance published by NHS England and NHS Improvement on 31st March 2020 provides information on how NHS Volunteer Responders can be utilised by various health and social care professionals.

Community Pharmacies can refer patients for support by NHS Volunteer Responders, who can offer four types of support:

  • Community Support: Self-isolated individual requires assistance such as shopping and/or medication collection/delivery.
  • Patient Transport Support: NHS site requires support transporting patients who are medically fit for discharge, and ensuring that they are settled safely back in to their home.
  • NHS Transport Support: NHS site requires transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites. Pharmacy needs support with delivery of medication.
  • Check in and chat Support: Self-isolated individual requires short-term telephone support to provide companionship.

Community pharmacies are unlikely to refer patients for Patient Transport Support, however there may be patients that need Community Support or Check in and chat Support. Community Support will be useful to help patients with collection of medicines.

The NHS Transport Support could be used by contractors to request support for delivery of medicines. If contractors do use volunteer drivers some points to consider are:

  • Drivers should be familiar with (and have signed) your delivery SOP(s).
  • Drivers should be provided with necessary delivery training (available from Buttercups).
  • Drivers should ensure their vehicle is adequately insured for this purpose.
  • Driver should provide suitable documentation to allow standard ID checks.

Referrals can be made using the online NHS Volunteer Responders portal or by calling 0808 196 3382.

NHS Volunteer Responders are not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS where informal support is not available or easily linked to by health and social care professionals.

NHSE&I are strongly encouraging healthcare professionals to refer patients that they have any concerns about. However, pharmacies are able to provide the telephone number (0808 196 3382) to patients in the high-risk group if they wish to self-refer.


NHSE&I letter - NHS Volunteer Responders information for health professionals (including FAQs)

Guide for referrers – NHS Volunteer Responders