Covid-19: An urgent plea to retired doctors

The Ministry of Health has sent out a "call to arms" for doctors and nurses who are retired or on extended leave to prepare to fight "the impending Covid-19 pandemic", Marc Daalder reports

Retired medical staff are being encouraged to fill staffing gaps in the health system ahead of a potential surge in Covid-19 cases by a joint-Ministry of Health and MedWorld campaign.

MedWorld, the region's largest medical recruitment company, and its subsidiary MedRecruit are working with the Ministry to reach out to doctors and nurses who are retired or on extended leave.

"Make no mistake, we are facing the biggest crisis of our time and the demand for trained doctors and nurses will be unprecedented," MedWorld managing director Dr Sam Hazledine said in a statement.

"We need all willing and available qualified health professionals to step out of retirement, semi-retirement or extended leave and make themselves available to assist where needed."

Hazledine is concerned that the health system isn't ready to bear the brunt of the pandemic. Newsroom reported on Monday that just 3500 Covid-19 cases could overwhelm New Zealand's intensive care capacity.

"We are currently experiencing 'calm before the storm'," Hazledine said.

"It’s vital we build our staffing capacity before we actually need it, not once it’s too late as we’re seeing in countries like Italy. The coming months are going to be extremely challenging and demanding on our already under-staffed and pressured health system, especially with normal winter illness and its flow-on demand to come. We need to be ready for an emergency situation and build the army before we go into battle, not once the attack is upon us."

MedRecruit is also taking on more staff to deal with an expected surge of ex-medical staff seeking to help out.

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