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Coronavirus: ‘At-risk’ retired nurses raise concerns about returning

Coronavirus: ‘At-risk’ retired nurses raise concerns about returning

Retired nurses, who could be asked to return to work to help tackle coronavirus, have raised concerns about their own safety.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has confirmed it is working with the Government on potential emergency legislation to reinstate nurses who have left the profession.

But retired nurses have cautioned that the Government might be asking too much of a vulnerable group – as the risk of death rises with age for Covid-19.

‘You’re asking the very people who are at more at risk for coronavirus to go back and look for it,’ said Sue Murray, a recently retired practice nurse.

Retired nurses are more likely to return if they are ‘manning the phones’ for NHS 111 calls rather than joining frontline staff, she added.

Ms Murray also said she might be worse off financially if she has to pay for insurance in order to return to work.

‘With lots of people who have retired, if you go back to any kind of work you can lose the retirement money,’ she added.

Julie Emerson, a nurse who lost her job in a hospital due to chronic dermatitis last December, said her skin condition puts her at additional risk.

She said: ‘I have open wounds on my hands, so would be extremely susceptible to transmission via my hands. Plus I cannot wash my hands frequently.’

‘I don’t think it’s fair to play on any nurses’ emotions to convince them into returning,’ she added.

Marilyn Eveleigh, a nurse consultant who no longer practices, questioned whether the NMC would be sending ‘mixed messages’ if requirements are lessened for returning nurses.

‘Some people have left the profession because of the increased requirements for revalidation… Now they’re suddenly saying ‘you can come back in’,’ she said.

Nurses struggle to find time to complete the CPD required for revalidation with a small proportion leaving the register due to not meeting the requirements, a survey found last year.

Ms Eveleigh also said she would need a mentor to help her transition back to work and to learn about new technology and equipment.

She said: ‘I’m a really good nurse in my head, but clinically I haven’t been near a patient for many, many years.

‘The theory is nice. The reality is very, very different,’ she concluded.

The Government is considering emergency legislation to register retired nurses and other health professionals as part of its ‘battle plan’ against coronavirus.

Director of education and standards for the NMC Geraldine Walters said: ‘While we do not currently have emergency powers to reinstate those who have recently left the register, we’re working closely with the Government on potential legislation that would allow us to do so if needed.’

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Retired nurses, who could be asked to return to work to help tackle coronavirus, have raised concerns about their own safety.