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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Retired nurses to ease winter crisis
Nurses
More nurses are needed during the winter months
Up to 20,000 retired nurses have been asked to come back to work to help the NHS cope with an increase in patients during the winter.

The Department of Health has confirmed it has called on former staff to help with the annual winter surge in demand.

But it said the move had not been prompted by a problem with its flu vaccination programme, which it said was ahead of schedule.

The news comes as the first of a group of 50 Filipino nurses are to begin work in south Wales to help a hospital trust avert a staffing crisis.

A DoH spokesman said the call for nurses aged between 50 and 65 to delay retirement or return to work had been launched in July.

It was part of an early planning scheme to ensure there was no repeat of last winter's crisis.

'Early planning'

Under the scheme, nurses who have retired within the past five years can earn a wage as a returnee on top of their full pensions.

Nurses over 50 can continue working part-time while earning pension contributions as if they were on full-time rates.

The spokesman said: "This offer is part of our overall winter planning and will be paid for out of the 63m announced to help NHS trusts prepare for winter.

"It shows that we were planning for winter very early on.

"It is about the NHS becoming more flexible. We would like the nurses to keep using their skills to help patients."

He denied there was a crisis in the flu vaccination campaign.

While deliveries from one vaccine production company had been delayed this year, the vaccination timetable was generally ahead of last year.

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See also:

08 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Nurses fly in to avert crisis
05 Jul 00 | Wales
Task force calls for more beds
11 Jan 99 | NHS in crisis
The crisis of winter present
08 Jan 99 | Health
Dobson admits health crisis
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