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Big birthday ‘thank you’ to thousands of students on the North West’s NHS frontline

Health leaders in the North West have thanked thousands of students who have been deployed to the NHS frontline to support the response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

More than 5,100 Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professional (AHP) students were asked to consider joining the workforce in hospital and care settings across the region after being offered the opportunity to continue their training in NHS employment.

91 per cent of eligible students in the North West opted to join the NHS workforce during the pandemic – the highest in the country.

They include over 2,850 adult nurses, 430 paramedics, 500 child nurses, 660 mental health nurses, 360 midwives and 180 physiotherapists.

In the build up to the NHS 72nd birthday weekend (4/5 July), health leaders wanted to thank the students for their efforts.

Dr David Levy, Medical Director of NHS North West, said: “We are immensely proud to be able to count these students among our numbers on the NHS frontline and would like to thank each and every one of them for their courage and commitment in coming forward and playing their part in the pandemic response.”

Christopher Cutts, Regional Director-North West, Health Education England, said: “Our North West healthcare students from across many professions have been magnificent as they have stepped up and stepped in to the front line service across our hospitals and care settings during the COVID crisis.

“These students are the future workforce of the North West, and this effort bodes well for the commitment and values they bring to regional health and care in the future.”

Jo Marinas, Head of Professional & Practice Development, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has supported the deployment of over 400 nursing students into the organisation.

She said: “At this stage of their programme, the students come to us with so much knowledge and experience already. It is important we continue to support their learning, especially during this time.

“We have been able to be creative with placements, cooperating across departments to provide an innovative and positive learning experience for the students. They have also supported our teams where we have wards with nurses shielding or absent from work.

“The positivity of students has made our job so much easier. It’s quite moving for me as they are now a part of our workforce; they chose to come and they chose the organisation I proudly work for.”

Sheila Lloyd, Director of Nursing & Quality at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said students have ‘played a vital role in helping patients and staff’.

She said: “I want to say a huge thank-you to the student nurses who have joined us through this initiative. It has been absolutely fantastic to have them here we would be delighted to welcome them back to the team again as registered nurses when they complete their studies.”

Case studies

Edge Hill student Rhian McPhial

Rhian McPhial, a second-year adult nursing student at Edge Hill University, chose to work at Aintree Hospital, part of Liverpool University Hospital Trust. She has been working with suspected Covid-19 patients in the hospital’s major trauma unit,

Rhian said: “I felt I needed to help in the current situation as this is what I am training to be a nurse for, to be able to help people. So far, my experience has been very positive. The ward staff have been so welcoming, every member of the team has invited me in with open arms. My role has been great on the ward as I am able to get my learning experiences and my mentor has been amazing at making sure I am getting the protected learning time throughout my shifts.

“Working in the current situation has been very enjoyable in the fact that we are able to spend more time with patients as no visitors are able to visit at the moment due to the situation and that has been nice, we all know how lonely it gets in hospital. And the learning I have done over the past 5 weeks has made me feel that I can see my future being a Trauma Nurse at the end of my degree.

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre student nurse Rebecca Norman

When nursing student Rebecca Norman found out about an opportunity to join the frontline of the NHS to support the response to coronavirus, she didn’t hesitate for a second.

“The Nursing & Midwifery Council said that student nurses could put their hands up to work in hands-on roles within the NHS to provide additional support during the pandemic,” Rebecca recalls.

“I opted in straight away and it was brilliant when I got the news a couple of weeks later that I could come and help care within the haematology day case ward at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.”

Rebecca’s knowledge and experience as a second-year nursing student meant that, after some additional training, she has been able to work as a healthcare assistant on the ward and support the clinical team as they care for patients, many of whom have blood cancers and are at greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch coronavirus.

She says: “I’ve had the opportunity to do things that I wouldn't normally do on a student placement which has been so interesting. I have been given training in life support, peripheral blood taking, cannulas, and line care as well as gaining knowledge on more specialist areas such as chemotherapy.

“It’s really nice to have that impact and it will be great to look back on it in years to come and know that I was here working within a hospital and supporting the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.”

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust

UHMBT has welcomed 68 third year student nurses, 47 second year student nurses, four third year undergraduate OTs, three fourth year undergraduate OTs, four second year postgraduate physiotherapists, two first year postgraduate physiotherapists and one third year undergraduate physiotherapist on work placement.

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) such as physiotherapists, OTs and radiographers, have been playing a major role in enabling patients to recover and return home after COVID-19 and the students are supporting this work.

Duncan Carr, a student physiotherapist, is on placement with the Trust’s Community Therapy and Rehabilitation Service in Lancaster. He attends the University of Cumbria and is on the first year of an MSc in Physiotherapy.

Duncan said: “I wanted to be on work placement for Morecambe Bay Trust as it would allow me to help the local community that I am a part of.

“I would like to say a particular thank you to everyone in the community rehab team who are such as talented and kind group of people. They have made me very welcome in their team. To everyone generally in the NHS I would like to say a big thank you for your efforts and I think it is very impressive the way you have adapted to the new situation.”

Pictured - Student Nurse Rebecca Norman

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