Government urged to bring in new volunteering laws to support Covid vaccine roll out

Ministers are being urged to bring in emergency legislation to help increase the number of volunteers needed to support the roll out of Covid vaccination and booster jabs over Christmas.

The call has come from the Liberal Democrats who want to see an ‘emergency leave scheme’ introduced swiftly, to help efforts by the NHS and charities to around this winter’s vaccine roll out.

As part of the proposed volunteering scheme the government would allow people to take between two to four weeks of unpaid leave to support the NHS. They would then be compensated by the government for loss of earnings and other expenses, such as travel and food.

Legislation for the scheme was scrapped earlier this year, but the Liberal Democrats say the scheme is now urgently needed to meet demand to tackle the Omicron variant.

They want to see a recall of a virtual parliament to introduce legislation allowing the emergency volunteering leave scheme to be put in place urgently.

It is estimated that 40,000 volunteers are needed in roles such as vaccinators, stewards and in administration roles.

“We are in the race of our lives to get people jabbed and turn the tide against Omicron, while the NHS is facing catastrophic staffing shortages,” said Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey.

Among charities involved in volunteering opportunities to support the NHS’s vaccination programme is the Royal Voluntary Service.

It says that steward volunteers are “urgently needed” to support the roll out of Covid vaccine booster jabs.

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