Coronavirus: ‘Your NHS needs you’ – 65,000 ex-doctors and nurses asked to return

More than 65,000 former doctors and nurses are being asked to return to the NHS to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Letters will be sent out to medics who have retired or left their roles in the last three years, and have up-to-date skills and experience.

People vulnerable to coronavirus will not be expected to rejoin and workers will fill a variety of jobs – including person-to-person roles as well as manning the NHS 111 phone line.

Final year medical students and student nurses will also be asked to take temporary, fully paid roles to boost frontline staffing.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS, said: “By offering to return to the NHS now, these thousands of well-qualified and compassionate people will make more of a difference than ever before – not just to patients, but to colleagues and the wider community.”

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “As the health service gears up to deal with the greatest global health threat in its history, my message to former colleagues is ‘your NHS needs you’.

“Our wonderful nurses in every corner of the country are preparing to change the way we work so that we can provide the right care for the rising numbers of people who will need it.”

Conservative MP Maria Caulfield has announced she will be returning to her job as a nurse alongside her political role.

She said she was returning to nursing because “the NHS will be getting unprecedented numbers of patients needing care, but also because staff are liable to get sick themselves”.

Ms Caulfield, who used to work at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Brompton, is the MP for Lewes in East Sussex.

Those who join will be given an induction and online training before they start work.

NHS medics working in non-frontline roles have also told Sky News that they could be redeployed to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

One said: “I’ve come to the opinion that the point of our job, simply, is to help people. Under normal circumstances my research is the best thing I can do to help society, and that will be the case for 99% of my career.

“For these few months, if me working on the acute side is more likely to help people, then I’m okay with that.”

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced around 1.4 million people classed as vulnerable will be contacted by the NHS from Monday and given advice on how to self-isolate.

This will include further information on remaining safe while continuing to receive treatment for conditions such as cancer.

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