Conservative MP Maria Caulfield has said “we desperately need people” to help the NHS in its fight against coronavirus as she announced she was returning to her job as a nurse alongside her political role.
Speaking to the PA news agency on Friday morning, she said: “I have kept my nursing registration since I became an MP in 2015.”
Ms Caulfield said she was returning to nursing because “the NHS will be getting unprecedented numbers of patients needing care, but also because staff are liable to get sick themselves.
“They can only go at 110% pace for so long and will need breaks themselves.”
Ms Caulfield, who used to work at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Brompton, is the MP for Lewes in East Sussex.
She will be working on the front line in time for night shifts, weekends and during Parliamentary recess.
Her announcement follows a call from Health Secretary Matt Hancock for doctors and nurses who have recently left the NHS to return to help fight Covid-19.
Ms Caulfield said: “I am very happy to use that time to help those who are ill during this time.
“I have got all my training for that hospital. I have still got that uniform.
“For me it’s very easy to get back into the swing of things, others will need more help to do that.”
Ms Caulfield, who was returned to the House of Commons with a majority of 2,437 in December’s general election, said: “It’s important to help out if you can.
“With schools closed it’s putting a lot of pressure on the NHS.
Thank you Maria for responding to the call.— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) March 20, 2020
The country needs the NHS, and the NHS needs you and other trained staff on the front line https://t.co/QGLIobJnPw
“If one member of their family goes into self-isolation they all have to now, so that’s taking people out of the system.”
She has kept in contact with former colleagues in the NHS, who she says are working long hours.
With the coronavirus crisis escalating every day, Ms Caulfield said she was granted an exception from the ministerial code to go back to work.
She said Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “very supportive” of her decision.
Welcoming Ms Caulfield’s announcement, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Twitter: “Thank you Maria for responding to the call.
“The country needs the NHS, and the NHS needs you and other trained staff on the front line.”