Thousands of former NHS staff are back on the front line in the NHS fight against coronavirus

Almost 5,000 former staff are now back on the NHS front line after coming out of retirement to support the coronavirus effort.

The returning doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals in England are now helping to tackle the ‘unprecedented global health threat’.

The 4,800 will be boosted shortly with another 10,300 returners having completed pre-employment checks and ready for deployment.

The more than 15,000 coming back into service as they are needed in trusts over the next fortnight, 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.

The huge response follows the NHS plea for recent leavers to come back to help them to care for patients, with the call to come back remaining open to all clinical staff who left the profession during the past three years.

The General Medical Council is helping to widen the search by extending its register, so that those who left the service between four and six years ago can return to play a part too.

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.

All returning staff that join this ‘NHS army’ have been given a full induction and training to help them hit the ground running.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, said: “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 front line.

“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.”

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director for the NHS, 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 front line, 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.”

Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer for the NHS, said: “We have been hugely inspired by the sheer number of returning NHS staff, and by their commitment and willingness to help provide great care.

“We will make sure their expertise is backed up by the same support we are giving to other health and care staff, and I hope that many more will want to re-join the #OurNHSPeople family at this critical time.”