Search

Coronavirus fighting force bolstered by hundreds of returning retired NHS staff

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56 20 April 2020

Julia Hunt, former director of nursing at the James Paget, who returned to work just 24 hours after retiring Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Julia Hunt, former director of nursing at the James Paget, who returned to work just 24 hours after retiring Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

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.

Claire Roberts, who has returned to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: Matthew Usher.Claire Roberts, who has returned to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: Matthew Usher.

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.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Pic: Nick Butcher.The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Pic: Nick Butcher.

“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.

James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJames Paget Hospital in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

MORE: Round-the-clock helpline launched for mental health issues during pandemic

You may also want to watch:

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.

Hayley Aylmer, who has returned to work at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital during the pandemic. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich University HospitalHayley Aylmer, who has returned to work at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital during the pandemic. Photo: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

“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.”

Among those returning is Claire Roberts, who has come back after retiring in 2018 from a nursing career which began in 1974.

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.”

• To see what’s happening in your area, join our Facebook page Norfolk Coronavirus Updates.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press