Areas are struggling to maintain safe patient care amid a “perfect storm” of rising patient demand and staff absence.
Student nurses attend clinical placements to learn and not to form part of the core workforce, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned.
It comes after a Scottish Government press release boasted that student nurses were attending placements to “assist in the safe delivery of health and social care as services continue to respond to the pandemic”.
The news comes as many areas are struggling to maintain safe patient care amid a “perfect storm” of rising patient demand and staff absence.
Student nurse Natalia told us that she has frequently been instructed to “cohort patients” as well as undertake the core roles of a Healthcare Assistant during her time on placement. Requests that she says have deducted from her time spent learning the role and skills of a registered nurse.
The nursing union has warned while student nurses are able to assist clinical areas the primary reason for their presence is to learn and develop skills and not form part of the workforce.
A learning environment.
Responding to the comments, RCN Scotland Interim Director Colin Poolman said: “It is important to be clear that this cohort of nursing students are going in to clinical areas to learn as part of their programme requirements, not to be part of the workforce.
“It is absolutely vital that, even during the pandemic, nursing students have access to a safe and supportive learning environment and their supernumerary status as learners is retained.
“It is concerning to read a Scottish government press release which implies that students are acting as additional staff for the pandemic response, when this is actually a normal part of a student nurse’s education.
“With more than 4,100 Registered Nurse vacancies in the NHS alone, we need to ensure students are getting the best experience from their placements so that they are able to qualify and then enter the workforce as Nurses.”