Over 2,000 former NHS workers have returned to the National Health Service in 2020 to help Britain battle the COVID-19 pandemic, statistics we have sourced reveal – another example of why healthcare workers are an asset to the UK.

Fighting covid-19 together

According to data that WhosOffice gathered under the Freedom of Information Act (2000), 2,150 registered health professionals have re-joined the NHS since March 2020, to support existing front-line workers caring for many of the 300,000+ people in the UK who have been affected by coronavirus to date.

Of the 228 NHS Foundation Trusts we contacted, 76 responded – with 67 confirming that former workers had returned to their hospitals as part of the Brining Staff Back scheme. Many health professionals came out of retirement to offer their services, while others who redeployed to the private sector also returned to National Health Service.

London and Yorkshire lead the charge

While healthcare practitioners from all four corners of the UK have volunteered their services during the pandemic, the strongest contingent hail from Sussex. Almost a quarter (23.7%) of the total returners came back to hospitals in East and West Sussex, including 160 professionals to East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and a further 158 to Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

London also experienced a major volunteer surge, with 12.2% of all National Health Service returners coming from the capital. 227 former NHS workers went back to work at hospitals within Barts Health NHS Trust alone; more than any other trust.

UK map showing NHS Return to Work figures

Other parts of the country with high levels of returning staff include South, East and West Yorkshire (11%), the combined North East counties of Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, County Durham and Cumbria (7.1%) and Staffordshire (6.6%).

Making the most of returning NHS workers

The large influx of former staff during the COVID-19 outbreak shows the dedicated and compassionate nature of the UK’s healthcare workers. NHS trusts have been working hard to use these skilled workers in the best way possible, to provide outstanding patient care.

WhosOffice knows first-hand the commitment and resources that the National Health Service puts into optimising its workforce, as our staff scheduling software is already being used by the NHS to plan shifts effectively.

Task planner overview
Team view of planned tasks
Mobile task managementg
Staff know, at anytime what their scheduled tasks for any given shift are

We recently launched a pilot scheme with a leading hospital trust in the South East, to improve the way it co-ordinates staff movements. This included the launch of a brand-new task planning feature, which enables on-duty personnel to look up their task list for each shift in real-time via a mobile app.

Initial results for our task planner trial have been very positive, and we hope that other UK hospital trusts will adopt our shift planning software, in line with the NHS Long Term Plan to introduce electronic rosters across the institution by 2021.

Thank you to all of our NHS Heroes

Paying tribute to our health professionals

However returning staff have been deployed in their local hospital trust, it’s clear that their efforts have been hugely valuable in fighting Britain’s coronavirus battle. From royalty to celebrity, well-known faces have been vocal in their appreciation of our care workers, with Prince Charles among the notable figures to visit NHS staff and thank them for their hard work.

In streets up and down the country, households have also shown their gratitude, with thousands taking part in the weekly Clap for Carers each Thursday during March, April and May. Many have also placed rainbow artwork in the windows of their homes as a symbol of hope.

At WhosOffice, we appreciate everything NHS staff are doing to help coronavirus sufferers recover from this terrible disease. We’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to both the 2,150 workers that returned to the NHS during the pandemic, and their colleagues already working within the National Health Service, for the outstanding job they have done to care for those affected by COVID-19.

On a professional level, we will continue collaborating closely with the NHS trust taking part in our task planner scheme, to ensure they can use our software to help front-line teams work effectively during this difficult and demanding time.

If you’d like to see a full breakdown of how many former staff came back to work in each of the hospitals that responded to our Freedom of Information request, scroll down.

If you’d like to find out more about how our shift planning software and task planning and management feature can help the healthcare sector to optimise daily operations, request a free trial.

Health professionals returning to the NHS during COVID-19: full data report


Foundation Trust Number of workers returned   Foundation Trust Number of workers returned
Airedale NHS Foundation Trust 13   Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 7
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 1   Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 141
Barts Health NHS Trust 227   Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Not available
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust 9   Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 0
Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 4   Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust 28
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 25   North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust 44
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust 41   North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust 12
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 29   North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 8
Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust 8   Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust 5
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust <5   Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 4
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust 0   Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust 16
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust <5   Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust 4
Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 10   Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 25
Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 8   Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust 17
Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Not available   Solent NHS Trust 6
Cumbria Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust 10   South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust 43
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust 44   South Tyneside And Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust 39
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust Not available   South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust 31
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust 160   South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust 3
Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust 13   South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 13
Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust 65   Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust 44
Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 84   Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust 7
Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust 1   Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 158
Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust 12   Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust 0
Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 61   The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust 9
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust 3   The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 60
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust 3   The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust 3
Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 6   The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn. NHS Foundation Trust 1
King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 15   The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 0
Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust 6   The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 29
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 15   The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust 28
Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust 1   The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust 0
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 2   Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust 10
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 5   United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust 10
Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust 6   University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust 125
London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust 0   University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust 54
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust 9   University Hospitals Of Leicester NHS Trust 104
Medway NHS Foundation Trust 32   Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust 2
Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust 20   West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust 120
      University Hospitals of North Midlands Not available
      Total 2150