ONE hundred and seventy thousand people have volunteered their services to the NHS, just hours after a new scheme was announced.

On Tuesday evening, the Health Secretary said that a quarter of a million people were needed to help those who are having to shield themselves from the virus.

They would be carrying out tasks such as buying shopping, collecting medicines and taking them to and from hospital.

And on Wednesday morning, just a number of hours after his initial announcement, NHS England's Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis announced that more than two thirds of the target had been met.

Mr Hancock said: "In these extraordinary times, it’s essential that we all pull together as part of the national effort to protect the most vulnerable, reduce pressures on our NHS and care system and save lives."

To volunteer, go to