The Nursing and Midwifery Council will enable retired and student nurses to work to help fight coronavirus, it has announced in a joint statement with other health bodies.
Student nurses and midwives will be invited to complete the last six months of their programme as a paid clinical placement and could be asked to join a temporary part of the register for students.
In addition, former nurses and midwives who left in the last three years will be invited to join an emergency register due to be set up.
NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe said: ‘The invaluable skills, knowledge and dedication of our former nurses and midwives – and the contribution of those nursing students in the final six months of their courses – will make an incredible difference for many people in need of care and support.’
As of Thursday, there are 3,269 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK and 144 patients have died.
The move from the nursing regulator comes after the Government yesterday published emergency legislation that would allow regulators to relax the rules around registration.
The NMC has outlined four steps it will take once the legislation is passed, which is expected to beon Monday. The first is to invite former nurses to join the emergency register. They will not have to pay to join.
In the second step, nurses who are currently on the register but not working in clinical care will be invited to come into clinical practice during the outbreak.
The third step will be to allow undergraduate nursing students to take their final six months of their programme as a paid clinical placement. It stated no student ‘will be disadvantaged’.
The final stage will be to establish a specific part of the emergency register for students in the final six months of their programme with ‘appropriate safeguards’ in place, which are yet to be established.
The announcement comes after some students raised concerns about the details of working before they were fully qualified.
However, nursing faculties representative body the Council of Deans of Health has said it will work with education institutions to ensure employers place student nurses in clinical placements ‘appropriately’.
It will also work with education institutions to ‘formally sign off’ each student after the clinical placement as usual.
RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘We have been clear that this must be a matter of individual choice for students, and that they must benefit from appropriate terms and conditions, as well as appropriate support and supervision during the placements. This includes being fairly remunerated and only being asked to carry out duties they are comfortable with.’
Recently retired nurses who wished to return to the workforce must have full employment protection and be paid according to complexity and responsibility of role, she added.
Dame Kinnair also said retired nurses returning to work ‘must be supported and provided with training, as well as given full employment status and protection’.
‘We will also support members currently working in non-clinical roles who are willing to return to clinical practice during the outbreak,’ she promised.