AN army of 65,000 retired nurses and doctors have been told “Your NHS Needs You” in the battle against coronavirus.

Medical students and trainee nurses are also being invited to join the fight — while members of the public have been asked if they can help, too.

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Unions backed the call to arms to deal with what was being described as a “national emergency” and the “greatest global health threat” in a century.

NHS trusts have been told to provide 30,000 critical care beds as the UK death toll rose by 40 to 144.

Tired doctors joined a campaign to urge the public to stay at home while one dedicated team of intensive therapy staff in the front line posed in their protective kit.

The Nursing & Midwifery Council watchdog set the NHS recruitment ball rolling by writing to more than 50,000 nurses whose registration has lapsed in the past three years.

The General Medical Council is contacting 15,500 doctors who have left the register since 2017.

All those who sign up will be asked what type of role they could play and how much time they could dedicate. There would also be an induction and online training.

Other workers will be able to take four weeks off unpaid to volunteer under emergency plans announced by the government. They will be protected by employment law so bosses cannot fire them and be compensated for loss of earnings.


Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, told The Sun: “Coronavirus is without a doubt the biggest health threat to our country in a century, and the biggest challenge our NHS has ever faced.

“While our amazing staff in every corner of the country are doing everything in their power to ensure that those who need care when the virus peaks can get it, we cannot win this battle alone. We need an army of workers to return to us and join us in the fight.

“So this is a personal message to all those of my former colleagues: ‘Your NHS Needs You.’”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “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. Wherever they can help, they will be hugely welcomed.”

Unite lead officer for regulation Jane Beach added: “We are facing the worst public health emergency in the UK since the ‘Spanish’ flu at the end of the First World War.

“Unprecedented events demand flexible and rapid responses, that’s why we are strongly supporting this call. We will be communicating with our members who have recently retired or left nursing to encourage them to consider coming back to help out during this national emergency.”

It comes as a nursing leader revealed some staff have faced verbal abuse in the street.

Susan Masters, from the Royal College of Nursing, said: “I hear from community nurses that they are being heckled . . . and called ‘disease spreaders’. This is abhorrent. It must stop. Nurses are running towards the fire to provide the care the communities need.”

Meanwhile, ITU medics at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South East London, posed for a photo in their protective kit before their shift in an isolation zone.



Sister Annie Anderson, 42, posted the image, saying: “I am so lucky to be part of such an amazing team. We don’t know what the next few months will bring but we know we are the best people for the job.

“Follow the advice. Make your parents stay at home. Stay away from the pub. Wash you hands and then wash them again.”

Other medics joined the Stay Home, Save Lives campaign to urge people to think of others and help to stop the spread of the virus.


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