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DUP woman volunteers to return to her nursing roots

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New recruit: Kathryn Owen

New recruit: Kathryn Owen

New recruit: Kathryn Owen

A DUP councillor is one of the latest recruits to the health workforce in the fight against coronavirus.​

Kathryn Owen, who was co-opted onto Newry, Mourne and Down District Council last year, will this week start working at a hospital site dedicated to Covid-19 patients.

The married mother-of-two from Saintfield, who has a background in auxiliary nursing, said she didn't hesitate in signing up to the workforce, which has seen more than 14,000 people register to help in a week.

The appeal was launched by Health Minister Robin Swann.

The 42-year-old's career in nursing started in the RAF.

She left two years ago to undertake a PhD in cardiology, but is returning to the health service to help the fight against coronavirus.

Other politicians returning to the front line include PUP councillor John Kyle, who has come out of retirement as a GP.

He told the Belfast Telegraph he felt "motivated" to do his part.

Kathryn said, morally, it was the right thing to do.

"I just decided that I have to go and help out. I will be working in the emergency department and the ICU, basically wherever my cardiology team is going," she explained.

She will self-isolate from husband Steven and children Thomas (16) and Grace (12) while she works at the hospital. She will be staying in a caravan when she isn't working.

At least 1,500 of the appeal's total registrations have been made by clinical staff, while 5,300 are support staff such as hospital porters and drivers.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has plans to invite second-year nursing, midwifery and allied health professions, including physiotherapy, radiography and occupational therapy, to further support care delivery as part of the scheme. Non-clinical workers are also needed for paid employment, including as porters, catering, cleaning and domestic services staff.

To find out more about the workforce campaign, visit www.hscworkforceappeal.co.uk

Belfast Telegraph