Student and Retired Nurses Called Up to Battle

by Mya Bollan

Nurses of the future and nurses of the past are setting up to face the front line in battle against COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Government have reached out to student nurses and retired nurses in a bid to ramp up the numbers of NHS staff during the outbreak of coronavirus as hospitals and other health care facilities need all the help they can get.

An emergency law will allow “fit, proper and suitably experienced” student nurses and recently retired nurses to work on the front line.

Nurses and other healthcare professional in their final year of study will be given powers, under the Coronavirus Bill, to register as healthcare professions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Health secretary Matt Hancock revealed that over 18,000 students will take on active duties in the NHS during the pandemic.

Scotland’s chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen says theses students can make a “significant difference” and help the NHS.

Alix Tosh is a third year mental health nursing student. She emphasises the importance of having nurses who can work with both physical and mental consequences of the outbreak.

“Although this is not how I envisioned my university experience to end I am proud that I am able to work frontline in supporting the NHS tackle this pandemic”

Alix Tosh

However, it is important that student nurses receive the right support in practice, in theory and financially. Scotland will offer band 4 pay to students who sign up to the battle against the virus.

Nurses who have retired in the last 3 years have also been called upon to get back on the wards to help in a bid to tackle COVID-19. Retirees must be under the ages of 65 and in good general health.

Chief nursing officer for Scotland reached out to retired medical professionals on Twitter.

Nurse Rachel Graham has mixed opinions. She believes that student nurses have enough knowledge and experience to help the NHS but worries that re-recruiting retirees could be risky to the health of returning health care workers.

“If you are over 60 you are classed as elderly so that means we are brining elderly workers back onto the frontline…These are high risk people.”

Rachel Graham

Jillian Bell is a newly qualified nurse. She supports the measures which will see nurses past and future diving into duties on the front line:

I think retired nurses coming back is an amazing thing to offer. This will potentially provide areas with more senior staff or staff who have more knowledge to help assist in the care of some of these critically ill patients.

As for student nurses, the wards would not be able to carry on without them and it is amazing that they are offering them a wage.

Students may not be able to take on a full workload but they have the ability to help both patients and nurses in so many other ways and we are so thankful to have them and the extra support available”

Jillian Bell – NHS Nurse


Visit the NHS Scotland website

Or by phone on 0141 278 2719

Chief Nursing Officer Directorate Scotland

Advice from the Royal College of Nursing

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