Thousands of former healthcare workers have come out of retirement and are back on the frontline to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, health leaders have announced.
NHS England said that almost 5,000 returning doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals in England were now helping to tackle the “unprecedented global health threat”.
It added that these 4,800 staff will be boosted shortly with another 10,300 returners having completed pre-employment checks and ready for deployment.
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said it was not too late for more former staff to come forward.
She added: “Our wonderful staff are doing everything within their power to manage this once-in-a-lifetime global health challenge – and now they are being supported by former colleagues who are bringing a wealth of experience and compassion back to the frontline.
“To those who have returned, I want to say a massive thank you.
“Given the scale of the task ahead, we cannot have too many doctors, nurses, midwives or other health and social care staff.
“If you would like to play your part supporting our colleagues at a time of need, it is not too late – your NHS still needs you.”
NHS England said that the 15,000 staff returning to service will be posted to roles according to their career and skills, including offering clinical advice over the phone to people self-isolating and observing the lockdown.
All returning staff that join this “NHS army” have been given a full induction and training to help them hit the ground running, it added.
National medical director Stephen Powis said: “I am humbled by the overwhelming response by the thousands of former doctors returning to the frontline and would like to thank everyone who has signed up, they will make a huge difference at a time when our country needs it most.
“But no matter how many staff return to the frontline, the NHS will only be able to cope if everyone plays their part and supports our frontline heroes, by staying at home and washing their hands.”
The response from former staff comes after NHS leaders issued an appeal to all clinical staff who left the profession during the past three years to come back.
NHS England said that the General Medical Council (GMC) was helping to widen the search by extending its register so that those who left the service between four and six years ago can return as well.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council is due to follow suit later this week with similar measures for nurses and midwives who left the profession four or five years ago, it added.