The number of people who have volunteered to help the NHS in its fight against coronavirus has passed half a million, double the government’s recruitment target.
Speaking at his daily news conference, PM Boris Johnson said all 504,303 could now play an “absolutely crucial” role.
The helpers are needed for delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments and phoning the isolated.
The scheme is one of a number aimed at relieving pressure on the NHS.
Mr Johnson said he a wanted to offer “special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS”.
He added: “And to all of you, and all the former NHS staff who are coming back into the service, I say thank you on behalf of the entire country.”
About 11,000 former medics have also agreed to return to the health service and more than 24,000 final year student nurses and medics will join them.
Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, said there had been “outbreaks of altruism” and he was “bowled over” by the medics returning to the front line and the response from volunteers.