HUNDREDS of former health professionals signed up to come back to work to help tackle coronavirus within 24 hours of a plea being issued from officials.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told Holyrood's health and sport committee that those returning to the professional will be doing so on flexible terms.

She said: "In the first 24 hours of asking people, we had 400 individuals come forward by email or telephone, making contact and expressing a desire to return to the workforce.

"They will undertake a very simple registration process and allocation process."

She added: "It's very much led by what people are willing to do, as it should be, because they are volunteering to return to service."

MSPs quizzed Ms Freeman on the timeframe for emergency powers being available after the UK Government amended the Coronavirus Bill to ensure it is reviewed every six months - but will still last for two years.

READ MORE: Holyrood set to back emergency powers

The legislation will give Scottish ministers wide-ranging temporary powers to boost the NHS workforce and act against those who flout measures to slow the spread of coronavirus.

She said: "The Westminster parliament will debate the use of the legislation every six months and the UK Government will report to parliament every two month on the use of the powers.

"Some of the powers in the legislation, the impact here in Scotland requires regulations to be laid. It is for Scottish ministers to determine when to use them and importantly, when to stop using them."

READ MORE: Matt Hancock: emergency bill gives UK 'power to fight virus with everything we've got'

She added: "No-one here and I don't think anyone in Westminster wishes to have this emergency legislation and those powers. They are there because of the situation we face.

"We are trying to anticipate how it will progress. We cannot be certain it will be over and done with this summer or this year.

"We have to ensure that we have emergency powers. We can end these powers sooner than two years."

Ms Freeman added that dentists could be delpoyed to help the frontline medical response to coronavirus to utilise their "significant skills" - particularly in acute services.