Retired GPs in Northern Ireland are again being urged to return to the health service to help with efforts tackling Covid-19.
The Department of Health has relaunched its workforce appeal campaign, which comes as the Northern Ireland Executive last week imposed further lockdown measures across the nation.
Its initial campaign in March to boost staff numbers in the health service led to 1,702 doctors, nurses and other ancillary staff coming back to help.
The Department of Health said that among that group 899 had been deployed, 145 had been offered a job and and 658 were on standby.
Ministers are now urging further doctors, nurses, social care staff and other health workers to come back to the health service to help.
Stressing that the current situation is ‘evolving’, health minster Robin Swann said: ‘We have now reopened the workforce appeal to build capacity again with particular focus on certain roles and positions.
‘I would urge anyone with the relevant skills and experience to consider applying to join or return to the health service.’
He added: ‘We are in an evolving situation that may require further recruitment drives going forward and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.’
He also paid tribute to the previous ‘phenomenal’ response, which came at a particularly ‘challenging’ time for the health service.
BMA Northern Ireland council chair Dr Tom Black noted staffing levels were being affected by healthcare professionals having to self-isolate.
He said: ‘One of the key issues for this second wave of Covid-19 is the number of health service staff absent or having to isolate.
‘This is having a big effect across the clinical and frontline health workforce here, many of whom have the added pressure of fatigue and burn-out from the first wave. ‘
He added: ‘In my own surgery we have recruited a retired GP to come back and practise a couple of sessions per-week and we would struggle to maintain services without her help.’