Medical schools ask students to help hospitals amid winter crisis

Medical schools are uring students to help at hospitals and GP practices amid the ‘national crisis’ facing the NHS this winter.

According to Pulse Today, medical schools around the UK are asking final year medical students to assist in hospitals and in GP practices in order to help alleviate the pressure on services. This news comes within weeks of NHS England telling hospitals to suspend all ‘non-urgent’ care.

Experiencing an ever-increasing demand for services hospitals around the UK have also started declaring ‘major internal incidents’ and turning to social media to plead staff to work.

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Dr Andrew Hassell, the head of Keele University Medical School, contacted students to ask them to help out in this ‘extraordinary crisis’. He told students in an email:

“We’re sure you don’t need us to tell you about the extraordinary situation the whole of the NHS is facing this winter.

“As the medical school for this area we think we should be doing whatever we can to support local services while maintaining student learning.

“We are sure you will want to be part of our collective effort at this time of national crisis”.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said reports that hospitals were ‘forced to draft in medical students to plug gaps due to winter pressures are extremely worrying’.

Dr Harrison Carter, The BMA medical students committee co-chair, said:

“Not only would this be exploitation of students who may be reluctant to say no, but it also raises concerns over patient safety if those working on the frontline are being asked to work beyond their clinical competence.

“While the Government insists the NHS was better prepared than ever before for winter, this shows hospitals resorting to desperate measures to cope with a system struggling with increased demand and lack of staff and resources”.

Experts have said that medical students, who usually practice under close supervision, should be aware of their limitations and competencies to help out.

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