Posted Friday 18 June 2021
Health Education England announced this week it has pledged an additional £15 million towards clinical placements for nursing and midwifery students. The Deputy Head of Kingston University's School of Nursing and head of the pre-registration nursing programmes, Karen Elcock, shares her thoughts on news of the funding, which focuses on increasing opportunities in community, primary and social care settings.
We welcome the news of the additional funding from Health Education England for nursing, midwifery and allied health care placements. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on placements for all healthcare students but particularly for student nurses who are required to complete 2,300 hours of practice in order to meet the course requirements set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
Placements in the community, and mental health and children's nursing placements have been particularly affected. Across London there remains insufficient placement capacity for all students who require them, due to a delay in many services returning to normal.
In addition, there are many students unable to undertake placements during the first wave of the pandemic who now require additional placements to enable them to complete their programme – putting additional pressures on placement providers. The ongoing challenges are a concern for students, the course teams and our practice partners due to the impact on student progression and on-time completion on their programmes at a time when the health service needs our students to qualify and enter the workforce.
Unfortunately, £15 million will not solve the ongoing challenges in the short-term. The development of new and innovative ways of increasing capacity and opening new placements requires time and dedicated teams from both practice and universities working together to develop new placement areas and new models of practice learning.
Previous money to support the increase in new placements provided last year saw little change in capacity due to the demands on staff in practice, who were still caring for large Covid caseloads. Alternative changes are urgently required which do not require money or additional staff resources. The NMC is due to undertake a review of the minimum practice hours student nurses need to become safe practitioners, although a timeline is not yet clear.
Our practice partners have been amazing in supporting Kingston students to undertake their placements, but the pressures remain high.