Some 405,000 people have signed up in 24 hours to volunteer with the NHS after a recruitment drive to help the vulnerable amid the coronavirus crisis, the PM Boris Johnson has announced.
Speaking at his daily news conference, he said they would play an “absolutely crucial” role in fighting the virus.
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.
This comes as it was confirmed Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the throne, tested positive for coronavirus after displaying mild symptoms.
He is now self-isolating at home in Scotland with the Duchess of Cornwall, who tested negative.
A Clarence House spokesman said it was not possible to know who he had caught it from due to a “high number of engagements” in recent weeks.