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Coronavirus: Former nurses urged to return to practice ‘to tackle greatest global health threat in history’

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The crisis has been described a health threat The crisis has been described as greatest global health threat in history

More than 65,000 former nurses and doctors are being asked to rejoin the NHS, as a new recruitment drive to support the fight against coronavirus begins.

Health bodies are writing out to those who have left their profession in the last three years with up to date skills and experience, asking them to return. People vulnerable to coronavirus will not be expected to re-join. Final year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary, fully-paid roles to boost the NHS frontline even further.

‘The UK is currently in an unprecedented emergency situation and we know nursing staff want to play their part in trying to combat the Covid-19 outbreak. As one of the largest professional nursing trade unions in the world, we are advising the nursing regulator on new guidance around expanding the nursing workforce during the outbreak,’ said Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.

‘The UK Government has announced the intention for final year students to be able, if they wish, to spend the last six months of their degree in clinical placement. We have been clear that this must be a matter of individual choice for students, and that they must benefit from appropriate terms and conditions, as well as appropriate support and supervision during the placements. This includes being fairly remunerated and only being asked to carry out duties they are comfortable with.’

Recent leavers, including retirees, will be surveyed on what type of role they could do, either over the phone on NHS 111 or face to face, and on how much time they can dedicate to dealing with the impact of the pandemic. Staff will be able to ‘opt in’ to a register to fill a range of clinical and non-clinical roles across the NHS, based on their skills and time away from practice.

‘NHS and social care staff are doing an incredible job in the fight against coronavirus, and we want to ensure they are fully supported,’ said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

‘To further boost the ranks of our NHS, we are now turning to people who have recently left the healthcare professions who can bring their experience and expertise to our health system. They can play a crucial role in maximising our capacity to fight this outbreak – and wherever they can help, they will be hugely welcomed. This continues to be a huge national effort to protect lives and protect our NHS, and I urge everyone to continue following the latest medical advice.’

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