NHS England has launched a recruitment drive aimed at more than 65,000 former nurses and doctors, asking them to consider returning to their profession amidst the fight against COVID-19 (coronavirus).

England’s top nurse and top doctor have launched the “Your NHS Needs You” drive, calling on colleagues who have left the NHS in recent years to re-register and help the health service to tackle the “greatest global health threat” in a century.

In addition to the efforts, health bodies are writing out to those who have left their profession in the last three years with up to date skills and experience, with the exception of those vulnerable to the virus.

The organisation says that final year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary, fully-paid roles to boost the NHS frontline even further, saying that those who join will be given a full induction and online training to help them to hit the ground running.

“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’” announced Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England.

“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.

“But 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. And I’m grateful for senior students providing expert care in this time with their NHS colleagues.”

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

Hospitals across the country are taking a range of action to prepare, including 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.