More than 65,000 former doctors and nurses are being asked to return to the NHS to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Letters will be sent out to medics who have retired or left their roles in the last three years, and have up-to-date skills and experience. People vulnerable to coronavirus will not be expected to rejoin and workers will fill a variety of jobs – including person-to-person roles as well as manning the NHS 111 phone line.
Final year medical students and student nurses will also be asked to take temporary, fully paid roles to boost frontline staffing.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS, said: “By offering to return to the NHS now, these thousands of well-qualified and compassionate people will make more of a difference than ever before – not just to patients, but to colleagues and the wider community.”
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “As the health service gears up to deal with the greatest global health threat in its history, my message to former colleagues is ‘your NHS needs you’.
“Our wonderful nurses in every corner of the country are preparing to change the way we work so that we can provide the right care for the rising numbers of people who will need it.”
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced around 1.4 million people classed as vulnerable will be contacted by the NHS from Monday and given advice on how to self-isolate.
This will include further information on remaining safe while continuing to receive treatment for conditions such as cancer.