Coronavirus: retired nurses set for non-patient facing clinical roles
Retired nurses in older age groups or who have health conditions can still help at a time when the NHS is under considerable strain, chief medical officer says
- UK has now mainly moved into ‘delay phase’ of tackling the virus
- Availability of critical care beds in NHS could come under intense pressure during epidemic
- Doctor-patient, nurse-patient ratios certain to fall sharply for a short period of time
- Half of UK coronavirus cases likely to occur in 3-week period, 95% in 9-week period
Retired nurses deployed against coronavirus who are in older age groups or have health conditions will be in ‘non-patient facing roles’ that may still be clinical, England’s chief medical officer told MPs today.
Chris Whitty made the comments while giving evidence to the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, with the UK now recording its 115th coronavirus case.
‘For example, they might be helping with NHS 111 – there are things that could be done that would not put them at risk, but would help them to serve the public for this period of time when the NHS is under considerable strain,’ Professor Whitty said.
But he warned that the availability of critical care beds in the NHS could come under intense pressure during a coronavirus epidemic, and told MPs the UK has now mainly moved into the ‘delay phase’ of tackling the virus.
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‘Half of all coronavirus cases in the UK are most likely to occur in just a three-week period, with 95% of them over a nine-week period,’ he said.
Upper limit of mortality rate for coronavirus put at 1%
‘The ratio of doctors to patients and nurses to patients would inevitably go down very sharply for a short period of time – that’s a mathematical reality.’
Professor Whitty said he had a reasonably high degree of confidence that 1% was at the upper limit of the mortality rate for coronavirus, although Wuhan, the city in China where the outbreak began, has seen an 8% to 9% mortality rate for those aged 80 and over.
Meanwhile, the Council of Deans of Health (CoD), which represents UK university faculties engaged in education and research for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, said institutions were making continuity plans.
CoD executive director Katerina Kolyva said: ‘Universities are working very closely with practice partners to ensure students and their placements continue to meet standards effectively.’
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Dr Kolyva said this would include ensuring nursing students continued to be supernumerary, or in addition to regular staff.
Healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission told providers on Wednesday it would still be carrying out inspections, but that managers would be reviewing these plans on an ongoing basis.
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