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Government formally launches ‘NHS needs you’ campaign for retired GPs

An ‘The NHS needs you’ campaign is launching today, urging more than 65,000 former doctors and nurses – including 5,000 GPs – to return to work to support the efforts against coronavirus.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has taken the step to officially contact them, following the GMC’s prelude that it would be addressing those who fall under its remit

Medics who left the profession within the last three years, but still have ‘up to date skills and experience’, will receive contact from their regulator, such as the GMC, over the next few days, about re-registering. 

However, it has been stressed that those considered vulnerable to coronavirus will not be expected to participate. Recent leavers, including retirees, will be surveyed on the type of role most applicable to them, be it over the phone or NHS 111, although there is the option of them conducting face-to-face work. 

Those eligible can ‘opt in’ to a register specifying if they would prefer non-clinical roles, which is also dependent on their skillset and how long has passed since they last practiced.

Mr Hancock said: ‘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 – and wherever they can help, they will be hugely welcomed.

‘This continues to be a huge national effort to protect lives and protect our NHS, and I urge everyone to continue following the latest medical advice.’

Members of the ‘NHS army’ will be given a full induction and online training prior to re-joining the workforce.

Covid-19, of which there are currently 3,269 confirmed cases in the UK, is being described as the ‘greatest global health threat’ in a century.

Final year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary, fully-paid roles to further boost NHS capacity. 

Pulse spoke to a retired GP who has already been asked by practices to return to work. Dr Farah Saad, 66, of north London, last practiced in 2018. She said: ‘I will help over the phone, but I won’t come into a practice’.

Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS’ national medical director, added: ‘It is only right we use every means at our disposal to bolster the frontline in the face of this unprecedented challenge for the NHS.

‘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.’

Medical defence organisation MDDUS has also automatically reinstated free-of-charge support to the membership profile of all its retired doctors who left practice within the last three years.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty is also leading new TV adverts, as the Government devises new public-facing campaigns to reach more of the population. Launching yesterday, they aim to explain the evolving guidance in layman’s terms.