COVID-19: politicians return to nursing in support of NHS colleagues

Politicians return to nursing profession to help NHS in fight against COVID-19 pandemic

From left, Maria Caulfield, Emma Harper and Karen Lee. All three politicians are returning to nursing to help during the coronavirus pandemic
From left: Maria Caulfield, Emma Harper and Karen Lee

Figures from across the political spectrum are among those returning to nursing to support the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conservative MP for Lewes Maria Caulfield and Scottish National Party South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper both said they want to support NHS colleagues, while former Labour MP for Lincoln Karen Lee has already returned to practice.

As of 22 March, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said 5,633 people have applied to join the COVID-19 temporary register, following an appeal from health secretary Matt Hancock for nurses who have recently left the NHS to return.

Ms Harper told Nursing Standard: ‘I thought long and hard about it as I have been out of nursing for four years but – as one of my colleagues said – once a nurse, always a nurse.

‘If people think about what led them to be a nurse in the first place, maybe now is the time to consider supporting colleagues and public health in a way that works for them.’

Ms Caulfield said unprecedented numbers of patients would need care but added current staff would also need support.

‘They can only go at 110% pace for so long and will need breaks themselves.’

Ms Lee who was the Labour MP for Lincoln between 2017 and 2019 tweeted to say she has gone back to nurse at Lincoln County Hospital.

Alongside recently retired nurses, final-year nursing students have also been invited to join the COVID-19 temporary register by opting to finish their studies on an extended clinical placement.

In other staffing developments more than 10,000 nurses who work in the private sector in England will be made available to help in the battle against COVID-19, following a major deal agreed between NHS England and the nation's independent hospitals.

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