Health and social care support

Thousands come forward to help in COVID-19 emergency.

More than 22,000 students and returning health and social care workers have come forward to support the NHS in its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The figure includes nearly 7,000 students in nursing and midwifery, medicine and the allied health professions and scientific disciplines. In addition there are almost 3,000 former social care workers, professionals and experienced healthcare workers returning from career breaks and retirement and individuals joining the NHS from the independent sector.

Applicants are being held on a list, with Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) and Disclosure checks being fast-tracked to allow new recruits to take up posts as soon as possible.

Offers of employment are being made across NHS Scotland with more than 160 applicants ready to be deployed and more than 3,600 returners in the process of completing their pre-employment checks.

The Scottish Social Services Council is taking forward applications and pre-employment checks for the social care workforce, with 140 individuals now matched into roles and a further 225 ready and available for deployment.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said:

“I thank the thousands of students and retired health and social care workers who have answered our calls for support, and put themselves forward to help the NHS response to COVID-19. 

“This has been an outstanding response and we are working with NHS Education for Scotland and our boards to ensure returners and students are deployed as quickly and effectively as possible.

“While increasing capacity in our NHS is essential we must also do it safely which is why the processes, induction and training must be carefully followed and I thank those who have registered for their patience as we urgently work through these details.

“The steps we are taking now are about targeting and prioritising our workforce where it is most needed which means adapting our staffing plans as we move through the different stages of this pandemic. While not all of those who have applied to help will be needed immediately, the offers are very much appreciated, and this is giving us the scope to be as flexible as we can, so we can make the best use of the different talents which our students and returning NHS and social care staff are offering.”


The NHS recruitment drive is part of the Scotland Cares campaign which is also looking at formal volunteering to support public services and other charities and groups in the local community.

Of the 22,611 who have so far come forward (as at 26 April 2020), 3028 have registered with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 1700 with NHS Lothian and 17,883 through the dedicated NHS Education for Scotland (NES) Accelerated Recruitment Portal.

Data from the 17,883* applicants processed through the NES Accelerated Recruitment Portal is broken down as follows:    

  • 3053 Nurses (17%)
  • 1512 Doctors (9%)
  • 307 Physiotherapists (2%)     
  • 366 Biomedical Scientists (2%)
  • 190 Occupational Therapists (1%)      
  • 221 Midwives (1%)       
  • 82 Paramedics (<1%)  
  • 2547 Care professionals (15%)

6904 NHSS Students (39%)

  • 5440 Nursing Students (31%)    
  • 662 Medical Students (4%)**  
  • 405 Midwifery Students (2%)
  • 106 AHP Student Final Year (1%)
  • 291 Other Student  (2%)                 

*The breakdown above does not add up to the total as while it includes a selection of identified roles, it does not include other roles such as drivers, speech and language therapists and podiatrists among others.

**Final year medical students who have graduated and received provisional registration are able to express interest in a FiY1 (foundation interim year 1) post or Healthcare Support Worker role. Medical students who are not in their final year can express interest in a Healthcare Support Worker role only.


All applications are now received via the NES Recruitment portal. People can register here.  


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