UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: 4,500 retired doctors and nurses sign up to battle COVID-19 pandemic

By March 22, 2020 No Comments
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Nurses in the accident and emergency dept of Selly Oak Hospital work during a busy shift on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England.  As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, industry, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The health secretary has said 4,500 retired healthcare workers have signed up to help battle the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It comes after NHS England struck a deal with independent hospitals to provide 20,000 fully qualified staff and 8,000 more hospital beds.

The NHS will also have access to nearly 1,200 more ventilators facilities and other critical care facilities that have come under intense pressure as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.

Matt Hancock tweeted on Saturday night: “Delighted that 4,000 nurses and 500 doctors have signed up to return to the NHS in the first 48 hours of our call.”

He said it was “brilliant support in our national effort” to tackle the virus.

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In a video accompanying the post, he added: “But we need many more. It’s easy to do, and we will make sure that your service is put to best effect.

“The whole country needs the NHS right now and if you’re a retired doctor or a retired nurse then your NHS needs you.”

Earlier this week, up to 65,000 former doctors and nurses were asked to answer the call to return to work.

The Wembley Stadium arch lit up in blue to support for the NHS during the current Corona Virus crisis. Pic: Jed Leicester for The FA/Shutterstock
The Wembley Stadium arch is lit up in blue to show public support for the NHS during the pandemic. Pic: Jed Leicester for The FA/Shutterstock

Hundreds of new cases are being confirmed in the UK each day – with an additional 1,035 in the latest 24-hour figures, bringing the total to 5,018 in the biggest daily rise yet.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has urged the government to go further to ensure economic security for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, he welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s plans to underwrite the wages of millions of workers who would have otherwise lost their jobs, but said the government needed to extend that support to cover the five million self-employed.

Boris Johnson said the UK 'can turn the tide' against COVID-19 in the next 12 weeks

NHS staff struggle with lack of resources

The Labour leader also called for protection for workers from losing their jobs, more support for renters, improved social security, and an increase in statutory sick pay.

He added that Labour would continue to work “constructively” with the government and that its proposals were intended to strengthen its response to the crisis.

A commuter wearing a protective face mask
A London commuter wearing a protective face mask

He wrote: “We welcome the direction of the chancellor’s announcements. But we continue to have concerns that the plans do not provide the economic security that everyone needs to be able to take precautionary measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

The number of people who have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK reached 233 on Saturday.

A 41-year-old patient is thought to be the youngest UK victim since the outbreak began.

NHS England said all 53 whose deaths were announced in England on Saturday had underlying health conditions and the eldest was 94.

The number of deaths in Wales has risen to five, while Scotland now stands at seven and Northern Ireland’s remains at one.

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The new figures came as Environment Secretary George Eustice said there was no shortage of food in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, with manufacturers having increased production by 50%.

Empty shelves in Sainsbury's in Cheshire
Empty shelves in Sainsbury’s in Cheshire
People queue outside the Costco wholesalers in Glasgow
People queue outside the Costco wholesalers in Glasgow

At the daily Downing Street press conference, NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis said crisis panic buyers “should be ashamed” for causing needless shortages for NHS staff.

Stephen Powis, national medical director at NHS England

Tech firms help to make ventilators

The NHS said it was also offering temporary work to final-year medical students and student nurses, as well as retirees.

And those who join the “NHS Army” will be assessed to see what kind of help they could offer in the service’s battle against the crisis.