Coronavirus fighting force bolstered by hundreds of returning retired NHS staff
PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56 20 April 2020
Norfolk’s NHS coronavirus fighting force has been bolstered by dedicated retirees and new recruits who have rejoined their colleagues - including one who had retired for just 24 hours.
Tens of thousands of retired or ex-healthcare workers have rejoined hospitals nationally, including more than 140 at the region’s mental health trust, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust.
At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), 500 people have offered to join.
Erika Denton, medical director professor, said campaigns including its social media drive, Norfolk Needs You - Come Back to the NHS, had helped - with 150 people agreeing to do so in three weeks.
She said the NNUH was one of the first to benefit from the national Bring Back Staff campaign, adding the University of East Anglia had helped with the recruitment of more than 150 medical students.
“All in all, through a range of different initiatives we’ve considerably reinforced our workforce over the last few weeks and more and more people are coming forward each day,” she said, adding there were still vacancies to fill.
Among those returning to the frontline is Hayley Aylmer.
She has temporarily left her role as governance manager for paediatrics and gynaecology to instead work in the Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital.
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She said: “Initially I was anxious because I have not worked in a clinical environment for many years. However, it has not been as scary as I thought it was going to be - the staff have been amazing and really supportive. I am happy to help in any way I can, for example making beds, looking after the basic needs of patients or running errands.
“I am also looking forward to having direct contact with patients again, although it will be strange having to wear a mask at all times. This could be quite daunting for a child. That’s why I’ll use my experience to explain to the patients and their families all the measures we are taking to protect them and our staff.”
She said her family had been supportive, and said as a nurse she felt it was her “responsibility to step in to support colleagues in times of need”.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, Cath Castleton, director of human resources, said it had seen more than 280 people apply to join the trust recently, including new recruits and ex-staff, in a variety of roles.
“Extra healthcare assistants and domestic staff have been recruited to support our ward and cleaning teams to meet the increased demand of infection prevention and control as we prioritise ensuring patient and staff safety,” she said.
“I would like to thank and pay tribute to everyone who is helping us to meet the challenge.”
At the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, a spokesperson said it had seen a number of staff who had been due to retire choosing to stay on.
Among them is Julia Hunt, who retired from her role as director of nursing after 32 years at the end of March - before returning just over 24 hours later to take on the role of director of infection control.
She said: “I was very much looking forward to retirement but I just could not walk away from all of my colleagues and friends through this pandemic, hence the 24-hour retirement... My new role will be to support staff in being prepared for the pandemic, making sure there is appropriate education and guiding support to my team through what really is a time of high anxiety for everyone.”
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