The HCPC, NMC, NHS HEE and the Chief Nursing & Allied Health Officers for the four nations have worked with the Council of Deans of Health and members on statements concerning temporary changes to nursing, midwifery and allied health student education following the emergence of Covid-19.

The position statements can be found via the following links: NMC and HCPC

This statement, produced by the London Healthcare Education Group on behalf of the London HEIs as listed below, aims to establish principles that we have all agreed to support the implementation of plans to enable our students to succeed and to make a continuing contribution to service need.

We want to express our gratitude to our staff, students and partners during what is an unprecedented time for London, the nation and the world. Your selflessness and resilience makes us proud in these challenging times.

Overarching principles

  1. Our priority is to keep our students, supervisors and patients safe. Where we feel that students can not be kept safe, or where their presence in a practice learning environment is unsafe for either themselves, colleagues or patients, we will pause their placement. We have well established procedures to do this, and all parties will take all reasonable steps in the best interests of students, supervisors and patient safety.
  2. We are committed to supporting frontline NHS staff to meet the demands arising from the greatest public health crisis facing the UK in a generation.
  3. We commit to ensure that where additional changes are needed we will work collaboratively across London with our practice partners and our students to agree on a common approach which will accord with national guidelines and regulatory requirements.
  4. Where placements are paused as a result of safety concerns, we will work with our partners and each other to identify alternative practice learning opportunities to give these students the best chances of success.
  5. We will collaborate on approaches to adapt our ways of working across London to enable students to succeed. This may include supporting students to attend placements (or in the case of employment, clinical environments) nearer their homes, even when these placements are not in trusts normally linked to students’ host HEIs. We will ensure that our students and placement partners are fully engaged to maximise completion across all HEIs in London.
  6. We recognise that the continuation of supply of health professionals to the NHS and other employers is crucial, and we will work together and with the wider system to endeavour to maintain intakes of students for our courses, taking whatever steps we need to take to develop new ways of recruitment, admission, enrolment and induction of our students.
  7. We will support our students to continue with their journeys towards becoming qualified health and social care professionals, but we commit to supporting and respecting the personal choices they make, ensuring that we provide them with full disclosure of information to enable informed choices to be made.

Guidance for undergraduates in their second year and all students in the first six months of their final year

For undergraduates in their second year and all students in the first six months of their final year, we will offer them the following choices:

  1. To continue on the programme but to complete the remainder of the programme as majority practice. This will typically be an 80% practice and 20% theory split, though local variations (e.g. 70%/30%) may be agreed between partners. Practice hours will be non-supernumerary and will be paid by the NHS. Theoretical content and assessment of theory will be provided by the HEI. Students will ideally continue with their existing ‘host trusts’ unless this is not practical due to home location/ travel etc. HEIs will notify to NHS HEE details of students who request a transfer to a placement provider closer to their home location, providing the same data set as for students in the final six months of study. NHS HEE will liaise with placement providers to allocate these students to appropriate placements closer to home.
  2. To interrupt their programme where the student wishes to leave the course temporarily and return when the crisis is over (this may be subject to a maximum period of interruption according to host HEI policy). Whilst on interrupt the student may choose to volunteer to work for the NHS as a Healthcare Support Worker at Agenda for Change Band 2/3 depending on the employment role and banding.
  3. To pause their placement/ practice learning in cases where the student is following Government guidance to self-isolate (i.e. they either have symptoms of Covid-19 infection, are in a vulnerable category or live in a household with someone who is in either of these groups). In this case, the student continues to study theoretical elements and associated assessments from home but does not attend placement. The student is supported to return to complete their placement requirements as soon as possible. Ultimately, students taking this option may need to interrupt their studies if they reach a stage in their programme where further progression requires completion of practice learning achievement (for example at the end of year 2 before progressing into year 3).

In addition, where students, HEIs and placement partners agree on an alternative choice (including for example extending the placement period, provision of part-time mode etc) this will be considered on a case by case basis by all affected partners.

Actions needed of HEIs and Students

  1. HEIs to survey students to identify individual student choices.
  2. HEIs to notify HEE (with data set agreed for Y3 students) of any students who choose option 1, but require an ‘out of area’ placement.
  3. HEIs to share with placement partners student choices and relevant data to support employment/ payment for practice hours.

Timescale

The need to support students with their choices and to meet their needs as well as the needs of the service at the time requires urgent action. We agree to support the implementation of these plans by end of week commencing 30 March 2020.

Further detail and guidance

Please refer to the guidance provided by the NMC and HCPC. If you are a student, we encourage you to speak with your HEI, who will advise you on your options in context of your specific circumstances.

Supporting institutions

BPP
Brunel University London
Bucks New University
City University London
Coventry University London
University of Greenwich
King’s College London
Kingston University London
London South Bank University
Middlesex University London
Open University
St George’s, University of London
University of East London
University of Hertfordshire
University of Roehampton
University of West London