Matt Hancock said he was ‘delighted’ that 4,000 nurses and 500 doctors had responded – over the past 48 hours – to the government’s call to get recently retired healthcare professionals to come back to work, helping the NHS in such a difficult time.
In a video posted alongside his tweet, the health secretary stressed that while this was a great start in fighting this ‘unprecedented crisis’, much more needed to be done.
But we need many more. It’s easy to do, and we will make sure that your service is put to best effect. The whole country needs the NHS right now and if you’re a retired doctor or a retired nurse then your NHS needs you.
As well as thanking those who were returning to the NHS from retirement, Hancock also praised the ‘heroic effort from all those working so hard in our national effort to tackle coronavirus’.
The health secretary’s announcement comes as it was revealed the NHS had struck a deal with private hospitals to acquire thousands of extra beds, ventilators and medical staff.
An extra 8,000 hospital beds across England, nearly 1,200 ventilators and almost 20,000 fully qualified staff will be available from next week to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The additional staff includes 10,000 nurses, more than 700 doctors and more than 8,000 other clinical staff who will be helping to manage an expected surge in cases, NHS England said.
The agreement will see the private sector reallocate almost its entire national hospital capacity to the NHS, with the extra resources also helping the NHS deliver other urgent operations and cancer treatments.
It comes as Boris Johnson warned the NHS could become ‘overwhelmed’ if people did not start putting the government’s social distancing advice into practice to slow the ‘accelerating’ spread of coronavirus this weekend, March 22.
In an earlier press conference addressing the nation, the prime minister also said cafes, pubs, and restaurants must close from Friday night, March 20, while all clubs, theatres, cinemas, and gyms must close ‘as soon as they reasonably can’.
According to the latest figures from yesterday morning, March 21, there were 5,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK and 233 reported deaths.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by coronavirus and the families of those who have lost their lives.