AN SNP MSP who had a 30-year nursing career has said she will return to the hospital ward in the fight against the coronavirus.

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper wrote to her health board informing them of her decades of experience, suggesting she could ease the strain on the NHS as the number of coronavirus cases rises.

Before Harper was elected to Holyrood in 2016, she had spent 14 years as a nurse in Hollywood. Prior to that, after completing her training, she had spent time in California at Cedar-Sinai, which is described as a "hospital for movie stars".

She said: "Disaster planning is something we used to practice in America, whether it was radioactive bombs, whether it was pandemic, we did it there. I don’t think I'm any more prepared than anybody else but I’m happy to put myself forward.

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"I've taken a few bullets out of abdomens and livers. I've dealt with trauma, knife crime. I got to work with cardiac surgeons and had a fantastic amount of experience.

"When I came back to this country in 2004 I worked in recovery rooms, giving morphine, waking people up from anaesthetic. Then I moved to educating.

"We don't take many bullets out of people in Dumfries and Galloway."

Harper does have type 1 diabetes so may be stopped from entering high-risk areas, but has said she wants to help out where she can. The MSP also urged Scots to follow the official advice on Covid-19.

"Continue to wash hands and look out for the vulnerable.

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"If we follow instructions we'll be able to help. The health service staff need to be supported too - they'll be as worried about their own families and older parents.

"Health care providers always do a phenomenal job, but it is going to be a difficult time for everybody."

Last week, it was suggested that retired NHS staff could return to wards to help as the coronavirus spreads. The UK Government and devolved governments planned a campaign to inform retired medical staff of the plan.

When Harper told MSPs she is still a registered nurse, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "I think that our marketing campaign has just produced its first result."