NHS England has put out a call to doctors close to retiring to continue working to help clear the country's health backlog.

In a letter to hospital trusts, the NHS urged for retiring and recently retired doctors to be asked to continue working part-time or from home in virtual wards.

The letter, seen by the PA news agency, also suggested they could help by training junior doctors.

According to the General Medical Council there are 21,000 doctors due to retire in September. NHS has estimated it has a staff shortage of around 110,000.

Oxford Mail: NHS England has a staffing shortage that needs to be filled (PA)NHS England has a staffing shortage that needs to be filled (PA)

Stella Vig, the NHS’s national clinical director of elective care, said NHS staff had almost halved the amount of people waiting more than two years for treatment in the past two months.

But, she added: “We know there is still a long way to go.”

READ MORENew data shows there are 2,200 patients for every GP in England

“So we are urging those nearing retirement or those who have recently retired to consider staying on to educate and train the next generation of doctors and nurses, as well as the wider NHS – freeing current staff to do more procedures as well as developing the future workforce so the NHS can treat even more patients.”

The letter told trusts that “enhancing and expanding the capacity of our workforce” was essential to clearing the Covid backlog.

It also instructed trusts to “create options for all staff” to increase their contracted hours.