Boris Johnson urges up to 65,000 ex-medics to help fight coronavirus

Your NHS needs YOU! Boris Johnson urges up to 65,000 former medics to come out of retirement to help fight coronavirus

  • Ex-doctors and nurses are being urged by ministers to help tackle coronavirus
  • Emails will echo Lord Kitchener’s Your Country Needs You recruitment poster
  • Staff will complete brief online survey and be allowed to re-register immediately
  • NHS officials not yet put figure on number of ex-workers they expect to return
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Up to 65,000 ex-doctors and nurses are being told ‘your NHS needs you’ to fight the biggest health crisis in more than a century. 

Anyone who quit or retired in the past three years is being urged by ministers to return to help tackle coronavirus. 

Emails, which will go out this morning, echo Lord Kitchener’s Your Country Needs You recruitment poster from the First World War. Staff will be allowed to re-register immediately with either the General Medical Council, the doctors’ professional watchdog, or the Nursing and Midwifery Council, its equivalent for nurses.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his fourth daily press conference amid the coronavirus outbreak. Ministers are urging ex-doctors and nurses to return and help tackle the virus

They will complete a brief online survey on their experience and skills and be offered roles in hospitals, GP surgeries, social care services and the NHS 111 helpline. 

Several hotel chains are in talks with the Government about offering up extra bed space to help hospitals. They include Best Western, which has 270 properties across the UK and has already promised to give up 15,000 bedrooms, 90 per cent of its total. 

NHS officials have not put a figure on the number of former doctors and nurses they expect to bring back but last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he hoped to ‘get our hands on as many as possible’.

All returning staff will be paid fully according to the amount of time they can work and will be given brief training and induction. The NHS is also allowing some of the most experienced trainee doctors and nurses to join the front line. 

Those in the final year of their degrees will be allowed to take up paid roles without having to pass their final set of exams. 

Mr Hancock said: ‘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. 

Left: Lord Kitchener’s Your Country Needs You recruitment poster from the First World War and right: The Mail imagines how Boris Johnson’s appeal to doctors and nurses might look

‘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.’ 

Yesterday, the UK’s death toll rose to 144, an increase of 40 – or 38 per cent – in 24 hours. The number of confirmed cases increased to 3,229, up by nearly a quarter. 

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is sending emails today to 50,000 nurses whose registration has lapsed in the past three years, while the General Medical Council will do the same for 15,500 doctors. 

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, 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.’ The Government hopes to sign up thousands of the public as NHS volunteers to help fetch medicines, feed patients and carry out admin. 

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned last night that London hospitals would soon be under severe pressure as measures such as social distancing and school closures intended ‘to pull down the peak’ of cases would take time to have an effect. ‘Even if everybody does all the things we hope they will do, the numbers will continue to go up over the next two weeks,’ he said.

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