PATIENTS self-isolating in York have been given equipment to measure their breathing - giving them a better chance of early treatment and recovery if they get Covid.

The pulse oximeters are small monitors placed onto the finger, which measure a patient’s breathing by detecting blood oxygen content and following a ‘traffic light’ good/danger zone system.

Some patients have been admitted to hospital as a result of their readings, allowing medical staff to intervene earlier and ensure they have a better chance of recovery.

The oximeters have been given out by volunteers involved in York’s SPA (Single Point of Access) Hub, which is run by a collaboration of Nimbuscare Ltd and York CVS (Centre for Voluntary Service) to provide support for isolating patients.

Set up during the first wave of Covid last March, the Spa Hub’s ‘GoodGym’ volunteer base has grown from just four to 23, who include retired GPs, counsellors, police and furloughed workers. They work alongside Nimbuscare’s own admin staff on tasks including ensuring patients have access to food and medication and phoning them to monitor their symptoms.

A spokesperson said that any patient who has been for a Covid test, called 111 or contacted any healthcare professional is added to a register, which logs their name, phone number, DOB, registered GP practice but no medical details.

When patients are initially contacted, volunteers ask if they can link them up with any extra support and if there is a medical issue they are referred to their practice.

Spa Hub Co-ordinator Stef Lambert said:“My colleagues and I have sorted volunteer food deliveries, prescription deliveries, food bank parcels, and oxygen monitor deliveries, as well as exploring how to help with some more unusual requests, like volunteer dog walking.

“”Even when someone is well supported in a practical sense, they have often said they find it hugely valuable and reassuring that they can chat to someone about the pain, the isolation, and the boredom.

“The SPA Hub works brilliantly because the volunteers are so kind and intuitive - they pick up on what people need so quickly. It also works because of the strong network of volunteers and wealth of community spirit in York.”

She said Spa Hub support was available 24/7 and patients chose how frequently they would like to be called, some opting for daily phone calls, some every few days.

Libby Edwards, of Ninbuscare, said patients really appreciated callers checking in with them throughout their time self-isolating.

Volunteer Kathryn Milner said: “It has been amazing I can do something useful to help during the pandemic. I have spoken to some lovely people who have been really grateful to know there is a network out there to support them.”