Medical students were deployed to help trusts struggling with pressures due the pandemic.
Medical students in London have demanded an immediate end to their “compulsory” reassignment covering “menial” tasks that would usually be undertaken by nurses and healthcare assistants.
In a now removed open letter to the head of Imperial College’s School of Medicine, medical students complain about their deployment to assist with the pandemic response at Imperial College Healthcare Trust.
The letter claimed the deployment to help on the frontline could put the students academic, physical and mental wellbeing “at risk”.
Muntaha Naeem, President of the Students’ Union, wrote; “Just a few weeks from their exams, our final year students now find themselves being pulled away from their clinical placements and faced with obligatory redeployment onto intensive care units to cover nursing and healthcare assistant shifts, working alongside paid staff for free while doing menial tasks for eight hours a day and five days a week, all under the pretence that it is for their education and represents a ‘significant learning opportunity’.”
Mr Naeem added the work did “not represent the opportunities for learning that correspond to our learning outcomes and assessments”.
He continued; “It is clear to students that these sorts of duties have little, if any, relation to their upcoming exams and learning outcomes, and so we firmly suggest this narrative is dropped.”
This was wrong and we apologise unreservedly.
An apology from the Imperial College School of Medicine Students Union to health and social care workers for the comments has since been posted on social media.
It reads; “On Monday, we published an open letter in which we were attempting to outline some concerns we had with the nature of redeployment of students in some areas. This included a statement in which we described certain tasks as menial. This was wrong and we apologise unreservedly for the hurt and offense this caused to our healthcare colleagues.”
“We in no way believe that medical students are in any way superior to nurses, nursing students, HCAs, or any other members of staff in the NHS. They all perform immensely challenging work and are essential for any hospital to function.
“Working as an HCA or in nursing roles is invaluable and humbling work and caring for the unwell is an honour and a privilege. We’re aware of longstanding issues of arrogance in medicine, and we fully apologise for contributing to that. It in no way represents the attitudes of our students today who understand doctors are only one piece of the larger team contributing to patient care.
The student union then goes on to explain that in an attempt to deal with the situation as quickly as possible the time was not taken to adequately reflect to views of all students.