COVID-19: registering as an NHS reservist

NHS England and NHS Improvement have launched a major drive to recruit reservists to support the health service as staff tackle COVID-19 backlogs.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors Retired doctors
Updated: Monday 9 May 2022
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About the recruitment drive

On 1st March 2022, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced a major drive to recruit reservists to its new NHS reserve team. Thousands of new reservists will be recruited to support the health service as staff tackle COVID-19 backlogs. More than 17,000 people have joined the reserve team since its launch as a pilot in 2021.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS England and NHS Improvement chief executive, is urging the public to enlist as NHS reservists. Anyone can register their interest through the NHS reserve team webpage, including those who would like to embark on a career in the NHS or former staff who might want to return.

Local hospitals and NHS services can call on the ‘NHS reservist community' depending on their staffing requirements and pressures in their area, creating a bank of extra resource for when it is needed. No previous experience is necessary and full training will be provided. Support will also be provided by existing full-time staff that they can ‘buddy up' with before starting any role.

It is important to note that returning to work as an NHS reservist does not guarantee being able to return as a doctor, as a license to practise would still be required to hold a doctor role. The most likely route offered to those who no longer carry a license but wish to return as a reservist is the Medical Support Worker role. Should retired doctors wish to return to practice as a doctor, re-entering the NHS as a Medical Support Worker in the first instance is an ideal way to ease back in, but there would be no expectation of this.


What is an NHS reservist?

NHS England and NHS Improvement define a reservist as someone who is passionate about patient care, working with diverse teams, and who can help the NHS during peak times and emergencies. They include:

  • former healthcare professionals
  • those working outside the NHS with limited healthcare experience
  • those currently working as part of a vaccination team or hub
  • those considering a career change and interested in working for the NHS.

Being a reservist could be a great way to experience the range of NHS career opportunities that suit an individual’s lifestyle and circumstances.

Those who choose to become reservists will be part of a paid, flexible yet reliable workforce who will be given thorough training relevant to their role. That forms part of a comprehensive induction process and prepares them to support local hospitals, health clinics or GP surgeries.


The types of roles

The roles will differ and depend on the help needed and roles available at local NHS organisations. Current NHS reserve roles include:

  • supporting COVID-19 and flu vaccinations
  • helping to run hospital wards
  • providing administrative support to wards
  • supporting basic patient feeding and hydration.

There are administrative and support roles on offer such as:

  • ward clerking
  • stewarding patients in busy clinics
  • replenishing linens and protective equipment
  • receiving supplies to wards and clinics.

Local trusts will work with reservists to provide relevant training modules as part of their induction.


Time commitment and pay

Reserves will be required to fulfil a specific number of days per year for training and working. The number of days will vary by trust, but it will be approximately 30 days per year.

NHS reservists will be paid in line with the role they are doing.


Register interest to become a reservist

Fill in and submit an expression of interest online form. You will be notified by your local NHS team when recruitment starts in your preferred area of work. Note that the response may not be immediate.

Role opportunities will depend on local staffing requirements which differ across regions, and smaller hospitals and clinics may have fewer requirements.

For more information please visit the NHS reserve team webpage.


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