Army of student nurses to help out the NHS

Army of student nurses to help out the NHS

October 11, 2021

Army of student nurses to help out the NHS: Hospitals in Scotland have called on non-registered nurses to help fix staffing crisis amid Covid pandemic

  • Students awaiting registration were used in wards hit by surge of Covid patients
  • Hospitals across Scotland used the students not registered with nursing council
  • Labour MP said ‘lives are on the line’ at health boards with staffing problems

Non-registered nurses have been drafted in to ease the staffing crisis in Scotland’s hospitals.

Fully trained students awaiting registration were used as healthcare support workers on wards hit by a surge in coronavirus patients.

In Scotland, nursing degrees take three years, with graduates then having to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) before being employed on hospital wards.

However, the Scottish Daily Mail revealed health boards have been forced to turn to students on the verge of graduating to help ease pressures facing staff during the pandemic – and this year allowed them to take on healthcare support roles before their registration was complete.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, South Lanarkshire health and social care partnership, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Borders confirmed it used 

It comes as the NHS has struggled to deal with an influx of Covid patients and growing numbers of people suffering from other serious conditions. 

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has warned Scots should ‘think twice’ before dialling 999, soldiers have been called in to drive ambulances, and accident and emergency waiting times have been soaring.

Last night, serious concerns were raised over the lengths the NHS was having to go to in order to cope with the crisis.

Fully trained students in Scotland awaiting registration were used as healthcare support workers on wards hit by a surge in coronavirus patients. Pictured: nurses working at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Scotland

Covid-infected patients requiring hospital treatment soared last month following a spike in cases fuelled by pupils returning to classrooms. Latest figures for Friday show there were 957 coronavirus patients in hospital, down from 1,001 last Monday

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: ‘This staffing crisis didn’t start with the pandemic – it is the result of a decade of failed workforce planning, including the cuts to the number of nurses made by the First Minister when she was Health Secretary. 

‘Lives are on the line as long as health boards are struggling to keep staffing at safe levels.’

Last month it was disclosed that nursing and midwifery vacancies had reached a record high, with more than 4,800 posts left unfilled.

Pregnant women who have not had vaccine make up a FIFTH of the most ill Covid patients in intensive care

Pregnant women who have not been vaccinated now make up nearly a fifth of the most ill Covid patients in intensive care.

Medical experts urged hesitant mothers-to-be to get the Covid jab – warning they put themselves and their babies at risk of severe illness and death by not doing so.

Misinformation by so-called ‘anti-vaxxers’ was blamed by officials for fuelling false beliefs that the jabs pose risks to expectant mothers.

NHS  England said 17 per cent of Covid patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were unvaccinated mothers-to-be.

Data also showed pregnant women accounted for 32 per cent of all females aged between 16 and 49 in intensive care on the machine used when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by Covid that ventilators do not work.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said that during the pandemic it had called on final-year students to help out as healthcare support workers on wards before taking up full nursing positions.

Their duties include helping to move patients, performing basic health checks, washing and dressing patients and helping to serve and feed them.

A spokesman for the health board said: ‘To help respond to pressures, where possible and appropriate, third-year student nurses were employed as healthcare support workers.

‘These final-year nurses were in the process of completing their registrations and, until registered with the NMC, could not work as a registered nurse.

‘These healthcare support workers [HCSWs] were included in ward staff HCSW numbers and worked under registered nurse supervision.’

The health board said that registration was now complete, with almost 700 additional nurses employed.

Lesley Thomson, nurse director at South Lanarkshire health and social care partnership, said qualifying students had been offered the option to work as Band 4 healthcare support workers while they awaited their NMC registration.

An NHS Ayrshire and Arran spokesman said students were encouraged to join the nurse bank to allow them to ‘gain additional valuable experience as non-registered’ members of the nursing team.

NHS Borders also confirmed it offers newly qualified nurses awaiting registration ‘temporary employment as senior healthcare support workers’.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: ‘It should never have reached the stage where nurses are being fast-tracked to provide care.’

The Scottish Government said non-registered healthcare support workers ‘are an integral part of our NHS workforce and key members of the multidisciplinary health and care team’. 

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