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expert reaction to the health secretary announcing a ‘NHS Volunteers’ scheme and a new temporary hospital as part of the COVID-19 response

In a Number 10 press conference this afternoon the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced a ‘NHS Volunteers’ scheme and a new temporary hospital as part of the UK’s COVID-19 response.

 

Prof Stephen Reicher, Professor of Social Psychology, University of St Andrews, said:

“The NHS volunteers scheme is an extremely significant development. At last, the Government are realising that the public are not a problem to be managed and controlled in a crisis. Rather, when people are brought together to cooperate as members of a community – rather than left to compete against each other as individuals – then they constitute the best resource we have for getting through. After all, as the infection spreads, there are simply not enough doctors, care workers, police officers to look after us. We must contribute to looking after ourselves.  Of course, in many ways the Government are simply catching up with what people were doing all around the country in any case. But it is very welcome to see this spontaneous self-organisation supported and organised with the NHS.”

“On another thing, today a paper was posted which constitutes a collaboration of some 40 social psychologists around the world (7 from the UK) bringing together what our research can bring to dealing with Covid-19: https://psyarxiv.com/y38m9

“In the passage I wrote with a colleague from Australia (Alex Haslam from University of Queensland), we stress the critical role of leadership in generating the sense of community – and hence the mutual support – I allude to above. Specifically, we say:

“In a pandemic, there is a particular demand for leaders who represent and advance the shared interests of group members and create a sense of shared social identity among them. We seek leaders who cultivate a sense that “we are all in this together”. In part, such leadership gives people a sense of collective self-efficacy and hope. More importantly, though, it provides a psychological platform for group members to coordinate efforts to tackle the stressors they confront. Without this platform, there is a risk that people will avoid acts of citizenship and instead embrace a harm-enhancing philosophy of “everyone for themselves”.

 

Prof Deborah Ashby, President of the Royal Statistical Society, said:

“Florence Nightingale is most widely known as a nurse but was also the first female Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society; using data to advocate for changes in practice which led to improvements to health. In the year we celebrate the bi-centenary of her birth, the NHS Nightingale hospital symbolises the rapid response to COVID-19 which is a fusion of front-line clinical care with cutting edge use and communication of data to plan our response.”

 

All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink: 

www.sciencemediacentre.org/tag/covid-19/

 

Declared interests

None received.

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