Trainee doctors were sent home from universities and have seen their placements in hospitals around the country cancelled because of coronavirus.
Inspired by a group of students offering help in Edinburgh, Archway-based flatmates Connor Tugulu and Thomas Buckley, both 22 and in their fourth year at UCL Medical School, launched a Facebook group offering free babysitting, shopping runs and dog walking to healthcare workers.
Within hours the pair had been contacted by fellow medical students south of the river, and just days later London Facebook groups offering the services had nearly 4,000 members, including over 700 doctors looking for assistance.
The idea spread so fast that Mr Tugulu contacted organisers of over 30 other Facebook groups, from Plymouth to Glasgow, and with the help of a friend working in IT set up website nationalhealthsupporters.com over the weekend. It allows NHS workers around the UK to contact any of the groups.
Mr Tugulu said: “We had all been on the wards when doctors were already stressed. I remember one of the doctors saying to me ‘how am I going to see my kids?’ and it really struck a chord.”
He added: “We are all working to try and make sure the entire country is covered by these groups.”
All medical students are DBS checked by universities, and will provide this documentation and a medical school reference to parents they help.
To safeguard all involved, when someone joins their Facebook groups, the London organisers ask for GMC registration numbers or medical student ID cards.