March 20, 2020 / 8:49 AM / 20 days ago

Come back to fight coronavirus, UK begs 65,000 former nurses and doctors

Shoppers queue to enter a Tesco supermarket, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in West London, Britain, March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has asked 65,000 former nurses and doctors to return to work and will deploy final-year medical students to fight the coronavirus health crisis, the health ministry said.

As the coronavirus outbreak sweeps across the world, governments, companies and investors are grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, panicked populations and imploding financial markets.

Final year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary roles to boost the NHS frontline even further.

“We can’t do it alone, so I am urging all recent former nurses to lend us your expertise and experience during this pandemic, because I have no doubt that you can help to save lives,” said Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is writing out to more than 50,000 nurses whose registration has lapsed in the last three years. The General Medical Council will write to another 15,500 doctors who have left the register since 2017.

Britain’s health service is freeing up 30,000 beds by postponing non-urgent operations and providing care in the community for those who are fit to be discharged, and finding up to 10,000 in independent and community hospitals, the health service said.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden

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