Petition Ensure student nurses and midwives are paid for working during Covid-19
The Government needs to ensure healthcare students that are placing themselves at risk on the frontline of the NHS are fairly remunerated. Students are also not expressly included in the Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme and no longer have the choice to opt-out of practice.
We are now in a second national lockdown, despite this universities have remained open and healthcare students are continuing on placement as normal. Students are unable to see their families or friends and are working for free during a global pandemic. We are working with patients with unknown covid status due to a lack of capacity for isolation rooms and inpatient testing. We have none of the financial protections created for NHS staff. We deserve better.
This response was given on 4 February 2021
Third year nursing students in England can, with university approval, opt into paid placements where offered. All other nursing and midwifery students will continue with planned training.
The Government is extremely grateful for the significant contribution nursing and midwifery students have made during these extraordinary circumstances.
During the first wave of the pandemic, the Government anticipated a reduced NHS capacity to support students on clinical placements and a need to increase the workforce capacity. As a result, arrangements were quickly delivered to offer all student nurses the opportunity to opt into a paid placement. The response to this initiative was overwhelming, and the Government is truly grateful for the efforts and sacrifices made by healthcare students in these challenging times. These students were rewarded fairly for their hard work and received a salary and automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. They continued to receive their student loan support and Learning Support Fund (LSF) payments as normal.
Due to the rapidly increasing transmission rates of Covid-19 and the emergence of a new variant of the virus placing strain on NHS services, the Government has deemed it necessary to take further action to ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed. On January 14, the Nursing and Midwifery Council announced that it was reintroducing the emergency education standards, to enable final year nursing students to opt into paid placements to support the response to the Covid-19 pandemic (https://www.nmc.org.uk/news/news-and-updates/statement-enabling-student-education-and-supporting-the-workforce/) . This decision was made following a request from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in response to the continuing pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like in wave one, student nurses opting into paid placements will be paid a salary and will receive an automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. HEE student support guidance is available on their website (https://www.hee.nhs.uk/news-blogs-events/news/nursing-student-support-guidance-during-covid-19-published)
The Government is keen not to disrupt the education programmes of non-final year nursing students and student midwives, which is why we have decided that these students will remain in their education programmes and continue their academic and clinical placement learning. Nursing and midwifery students are a valuable part of clinical teams and make a real difference to patient care, particularly during this pandemic. Students on clinical placements are required to be ‘supernumerary’. This means that there are protections in place so that they are an addition to the established workforce team and not employed to provide care. This ensures students have the time and support necessary to learn.
All eligible new and continuing pre-registration nursing and midwifery students studying at English universities can benefit from the new, non-repayable, training grant of at least £5000 per academic year, as well as continued financial support provided through the Student Loan Company. This grant is in addition to funding provided by the Student Loan Company and the other Learning Support Fund grants such as travel expenses. This generous support package enables nursing and midwifery students to focus on their training and contributes to alleviating financial pressures students might be facing.
The Government is keen to minimise disruption and has put in place specific measures for nursing and midwifery students that include ensuring that students on placement have access to broadly equitable support as for NHS staff, such as being classed as essential workers for the purpose of testing and access to travel, school and childcare places, and having access to appropriate PPE for placement duties. We know that the health and wellbeing needs of students must be prioritised and NHSE & I and HEE have been working closely with universities and placement providers to ensure students have the support they need, including access to NHS mental health support.
We are immensely grateful for the hard work of all our healthcare students throughout this pandemic. Ministers have made clear that for the purposes of the NHS & Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme students on placement will be treated in the same way as other staff working on the frontline. The NHS & Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance scheme provides additional financial security for eligible frontline individuals who are employed to deliver care for people and work in environments that carry an increased risk of contracting Coronavirus. The scheme pays a £60,000 tax-free lump sum.
Eligibility for this payment is work-related and requires the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to be satisfied that coronavirus was contracted in the course of performing duties.
Department of Health and Social Care
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