Placements Help Pandemic Response
17th January 2022
Around 12,000 students will assist in the safe delivery of health and social care as services continue to respond to the pandemic.
More than 3,000 nursing and midwifery students are heading out on placements this month. A further 7,000 students will be placed across the service in February, complemented by around 1,500 Allied Health Professional students and more than 500 paramedic students who will also be involved in the delivery of care via supervised practice.
The practical component of student learning remains centred on supervised involvement in the frontline delivery of patient care as part of accruing the hours necessary for registration as a healthcare professional. It is an integral part of the ongoing work to respond to the challenges of COVID-19, and is greatly valued by the workforce.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:"As part of their professional programme of education, and throughout the pandemic, these students have worked tirelessly to support our NHS, making an invaluable contribution to the delivery of care as part of their supervised practice in health and social care environments.
"As we go into a third year facing up to the challenges of COVID, we are fortunate to combine good quality learning attained by students as part of their supervised practice with the positive impact these students have on the delivery of safe, effective patient care and their ongoing support of our NHS. And I wholeheartedly thank them for their hard work during this difficult time."
Senior Charge Nurse for Critical Care at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Steve Walls said:“As part of their learning experience, students have adapted to what has been very challenging time, providing the highest quality of care as valued members of clinical teams across a broad range of services, from our hospitals to the community.
“For me it has been fantastic to see how they have developed while providing an extra pair of hands, eyes and ears to make sure our patients are safely cared for as we respond to the pandemic. They also bring with them an enthusiasm that can lift the mood of a shift."
Honours nursing student at Glasgow Caledonian University and mother-of-three Natalie Elliott, from Lanarkshire, was one of the first students to go out on supervised hospital placements in April 2020.
She said: “ I learned so much. The experience has helped boost my confidence and improved my performance.
“It was a real privilege to be part of the pandemic response and to feel that you've made that little bit of a difference. There was a sense of camaraderie on the wards and I really felt part of the team.
“It has also helped me develop more self-awareness. Nursing can be stressful but I've learned to look after myself and be more resilient when I feel overwhelmed with the challenges I face, particularly when wards are short staffed and there are difficult cases to deal with."
Despite the ongoing difficult circumstances, supervised practice placements equip newly-qualified professionals with the skills and experience to operate with competence and confidence.
With COVID admissions rising at a rate 45% faster than they did last winter, and combined with existing winter pressures, there is significant demand on hospitals. A large spike in staff absence relating to COVID is also significantly impacting NHS service provision.
New remote monitoring tools to support people with Covid to stay safely at home, and free up hospital beds are among a range of steps being put in place to support the health and care workforce and maximise capacity detailed here.
Student nurses and midwives entering Scottish Government funded degree programmes will increase by 8.7% in 2022-23, to a total recommended intake of 4837 students. This will be the 10th successive increase in recommended student numbers, with the intake doubling over the last decade.
Mental health nursing will increase to a recommended intake of 888 places, up 20% from the previous year, and 146.7% over the course of the last 10 student intakes. And a further 335 students will begin a Paramedic Science degree, bringing the total number of paramedic students to 996, the third successive increase in recommended intake targets since the programme began in 2020.