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NHS to ask nurses in non-patient facing roles to join frontline

Nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in non-patient facing roles will be asked to join the frontline workforce, a letter sent to NHS bosses has said.

The letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement warned the health service will come under ‘intense pressure’ during the worsening coronavirus outbreak. As of Thursday, there are 3,269 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK and 144 patients have died.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has now confirmed it will encourage nurses and midwives who are currently on the register but not working in clinical care to consider coming into clinical practice. 

The letter, sent to leaders at all NHS and foundation trusts, practices and community health services, stated: ‘All appropriate registered nurses, midwives and AHPs currently in nonpatient facing roles will be asked to support direct clinical practice in the NHS in the next few weeks, following appropriate local induction and support.

‘Clinically qualified staff at NHS England and Improvement are now being redeployed to frontline clinical practice,’ it added.

The document also said ‘urgent work’ around mobilising student nurses to help tackle coronavirus will be finalised ‘in the next week’ following collaboration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

NMC registrants who stopped practicing within the last three years are being written to by the regulator to see whether they would be willing to return to help in some way, it added.

The letter also stated that NHS England and NHS Improvement would:  

  • ask Public Health England to target testing symptomatic NHS staff for coronavirus ‘who would otherwise need to self-isolate for 7 days’;
  • offer staff affected by the 14-day household isolation policy (where people must self-isolate if a member of their household shows symptoms) NHS-reimbursed hotel accommodation while they continue to work;
  • instruct NHS organisations to ‘make adjustments’ for staff at increased risk of serious illness from coronavirus, which may include working remotely or moving to a lower risk area;
  • urge NHS organisations to consider how to support otherwise healthy staff who are at higher risk of severe illness, which may include supporting telephone-based or video consultations.

The letter comes after retired nurses and student nurses raised concerns about returning to work, or starting work early, in clinical practice.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson announced ‘drastic’ measures to tackle the coronavirus, including asking everyone to stop ‘non-essential’ contact with others regardless of whether they have coronavirus.


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