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The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC) said it is contacting former pharmacy professionals as the NHS has called upon them, alongside doctors, nurses and other health professionals, to return and help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

GPhC has powers to temporarily register fit, proper and suitably experienced people to act as pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to help protect public health in the event of an emergency.

“These are challenging times and the GPhC is committed to playing its part in helping to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic,” Duncan Rudkin, chief executive, said.

He said the regulator will publish more information on this soon.

The former professionals GPHC is contacting include people who have voluntarily removed themselves or were removed for non-renewal from the GPhC register in the last three years. They will be included on the temporary register and could practise in Britain if they chose to do so.

The Department of Health and Social Care said they have asked 65,000 former nurses and doctors to return to work.

Final year medical students and student nurses are also being offered the chance to take temporary roles to boost the NHS frontline even further.

“We can’t do it alone, so I am urging all recent former nurses to lend us your expertise and experience during this pandemic, because I have no doubt that you can help to save lives,” said Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is writing out to more than 50,000 nurses whose registration has lapsed in the last three years. The General Medical Council will write to another 15,500 doctors who have left the register since 2017.

NHS is freeing up 30,000 beds by postponing non-urgent operations and providing care in the community for those who are fit to be discharged, and finding up to 10,000 in independent and community hospitals.

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