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Over 5,000 medical students will join NHS coronavirus effort ‘next week’

The NHS coronavirus frontline will be boosted with 5,500 medical students from next week, the health secretary has said.

This is part of a significant drive to bolster the workforce, also including the return of retired doctors and doctors who had left clinical roles.

Leading the Government’s daily coronavirus briefing yesterday, Matt Hancock said: ‘From next week, 5,500 final-year medics and 18,700 final-year student nurses will move to the frontline to make sure we have the people we need in our NHS to respond to this crisis. 

‘In total, that’s over 35,000 more staff coming to the NHS when the country needs the NHS most.’

But BMA medical students committee co-chairs Gurdas Singh and Chris Smith urged some caution.

They said in a statement: ‘Medical students who choose to be provisionally registered and become junior doctors at this unprecedented time for the NHS must be guaranteed comprehensive induction and supervision, particularly in the difficult circumstances under which they are joining.

‘It’s also essential that these doctors are not expected to work beyond their capabilities, and that patient safety remains a top priority.’

Health Education England stated: ‘The GMC will provisionally register any final year medical student who applies’.

NHS England is also setting up ‘an army’ of volunteers in response to the coronavirus crisis, who will be called upon to help the vulnerable.

After the call was issued, NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said 170,000 people signed up to volunteer already last night.