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Student Nurses

Why should we defend NHS Student Bursaries? #BursaryNotBust

Nursing Notes



George Osborne apparently owns a stake in his father’s fabric shop. You can read it on Wikipedia. It’s quite romantic to think of young Gideon, playing amongst the exquisite textiles, maybe trimming a little off one part, his safety scissors in hand, severing the threads of an intricate ensemble. The little I know about textiles suggest that things can go awfully awry when you hack too much away from the material, not leaving you enough to fashion with. Public services are a little bit like that as well.

Recently the government announced that it was planning to cut NHS student bursaries. This is just one such slashing amongst the myriad; firefighter numbers down by 7000; the police losing £200 million; cuts to legal aid. This is not mentioning the fight about junior doctor contracts. One has to wonder exactly the kind of society George, and his friends, would like to see at the end of this decade. Safety nets that helped to catch the most vulnerable in society are being stripped bare. If you’re rich you should make it through though. For those of us who work in the NHS, you sit close to the maelstrom of these colliding events. A muddled, older person leaves the gas on at home – she is blown up, goes to hospital and is treated, needs subsequent social care, whilst the family are involved in a wrangle over property with no free advice – at different points the support system fails. But each of us cannot see how the tapestry has fallen to pieces, each seam peeling away. We only work within our own fields of vision, and with our own experiences.

To turn more specifically to the case of NHS bursaries – I am highly suspect when the government claims to be doing anything to support nurses, or their clinical colleagues. Why would you make it so much more difficult for non-EU nurses to stay (making them leave after 6 years if they do not earn enough), whilst also cutting nurses’ free education? Many of our present working nurses are nearing retirement: we may be short by some 47,500 in 2016. This is not a government that supports the NHS, but undermines it. The Letwin and Redwood book of austerity reigns supreme. It likes to claim spending is maintained. It likes to conflate a stimulus with a reduction in deficit. It is happy to try to keep the body looking somewhat presentable, whilst slightly damaging each of the organs.

The free bursary was mine, during my fairly recent student days, and like all nursing students I worked for it – in placements and with essays. I feel for those younger, and also those more mature, people who wish to train to be nurses in the future. I am not looking forward to mentoring them, despite wanting to take my mentorship course. I enjoy teaching. It is a vital part of a nurse’s job. But attrition is already suspected to be around 50%. What a terrible waste of both of our efforts should they choose to drop out, unable to pay the bills. To put aside the discredited economic arguments for what the government are doing, it does not take an archbishop, or a moral philosopher to see their actions are morally reprehensible. When the UN show up on your doorstep to investigate your party’s treatment of disabled people, you need to take a look at yourself in the antique, heirloom mirror.

On January 9th 2016 I will be marching alongside fellow student nurses and other allied health professionals.

If you want to join us meet at St. Thomas’ hospital, London at 12.00pm

The plan is to help raise the public’s awareness of the Tories’ base treatment of trainee clinicians. I hope many doctors will also be there. I hope the whole thing will not fall on totally deaf ears. I hope primarily it will bring public sector workers together, and let them see how they are being stitched up. Whatever damage the present lot do, it is still reassuring to think they have five years only to do it in. The NHS, for all its present faults and failures, has lasted nearly 70 years. I have doubts that will be the same beast in 70 more. But there’s fight in it yet.

Student Nurses

My ‘average’ day as a Student Nurse

Deirdre Mulvenna-Pegrum



Ohhh… What is that beeping noise? Stop it! Go and see why that patient keeps pressing the buzzer, will you? Oh, no, wait. It’s my alarm.

Out of bed, still dark, lucky the heating has just come on.  My dogs are weaving in and out of my legs, more excited than I to be up at this ungodly hour – again.

Time to wander downstairs, get that kettle on. First cup of the day – but possibly my last drink until my break time.  Make the most of it.  Dogs into the garden, thank goodness, no barking this early.  Come on you two, time for biscuits.  At least I know my husband will give them a walk when he gets up – when it is light and the birds have stopped their dawn chorus.  What am I saying?  It’s too dark for even that yet!

Right, tea done.  Cannot face breakfast at this hour – just have to hope I get a fifteen-minute break later and be able to get some toast…. Into the shower.  The dogs follow me upstairs and settle back into their cosy beds.  Thanks.  I feel even better about going out into that drizzly, dark morning.


Uniform on.  Coat needed, it is chilly today.  Rucksack with portfolio, check.  Parking scratch card, check.  Car keys, check.  5.50am, out of the house.  Headlights on full.  I hate the drive to work in the dark and come home in the dark days – it is a really hard slog.  Sometimes I try to go for a walk during my break just to get outside and see the sun and inhale some good, clean air, rather than antiseptic and sickness.

It’s a long drive to the hospital.  It is more enjoyable as the roads are quiet at this time of day – I think doing this in rush hour would finish me off.  Arrive safely.  Parking good too this time of day, so no mile walk from the car park – especially as the rain has just started now.  I head into placement, ten minutes early.  Time to put my bag in a cupboard – no lockers for us students.  I always worry about leaving anything valuable there.  No offence intended to anyone.  I have learned to carry my cash – a small amount – in my uniform pocket – which is not ideal, but needs must.

Wash my hands, remember the wrists and finger tips – you never know who is observing you.  Into the ward.  Good, my mentor is not here yet.  I grab a seat.  The thing about nursing is, grab a seat while you may, it does not happen often!

Time for handover.  Not many in-patients today.  Good, but the ones we have will keep us busy – I’m sure.

Check the list – we have eighteen patients, more male than female, due into the ward today.  I will wait until my mentor tells me which side to work on.  I guess I shall end up helping whoever needs me though – as is usual.  I do not mind this.  It allows me to see how different nurses, both male and female, work and how they treat and care for their patients.

When I first arrived at this placement, one nurse treated me like a porter; go the pharmacy, walk this patient to the entrance to meet their lift.  I put up with precisely one day of this.  I asked my mentor, ever so subtly, if the other staff were aware I was actually a third year, not a first year, and that I would really appreciate observing them if they did not want me to actually do things instead.  That did not happen again.

Eight o’clock.  Breakfast time.  Then observations and reporting any concerns.  Encouraging those who could to walk to the bathroom, making sure they are steady.  Check to see when they should be discharged, and encourage them to get dressed and sit in the patient lounge.  Once they are there, and all their belongings packed up, time to get the paperwork on the go.  Check to see if they need appointments, check to see if they need to go home with instructions or drugs, and make sure they understand all about them.  Once their escort arrives, it is time to get the bed stripped and cleaned down, as theatre have been on wanting us to take another.

Theatre gets backed up as they cannot get the recovery bay clear.  It is so frustrating.  This continues all day.  We have three visits from the bed manager.  It is no good – we cannot make beds magically appear. We cannot discharge patients until they are ready.  We all feel under pressure, me included.

Time for a break.  Fifteen minutes.  I grab a coffee and a healthy snack bar.  I can eat them outside.  Back to the ward.

More patients.  These want to have a snack and leave.  Luckily, they are all able to.  We do not have anyone who needs extra care until after lunch – which was a lovely salad and a walk around the hospital – it’s raining too hard to venture outside, much as though I would love to.

The changeover has been constant.  We only have twelve beds, and have to rotate a minimum of eighteen patients, sometimes more, in a day through them.  It just takes a couple who do not recover well to hold this up.  Sometimes it is so busy I do not exchange more than a few words with my mentor.  We have to be constantly aware and observant of all the patients.

This is exhausting. I did not get another break this afternoon.  I do enjoy chatting with the patients though.  It is good to make them have a laugh when it is appropriate.  At least most of them went home smiling and happy.  Great – give them the friends and family card… Cynical old me.

Handover sheet updated.  I grab a sneaky seat – remember when I said earlier, take a seat when you can?  This, apart from my break, has been the second opportunity today.  Thank god for flight socks – my legs would need lifting into the car individually if I did not have these sexy beauties.

Handover is given to the night staff.  Hopefully, they will not have a difficulty shift.  There are only three patients staying in.  Problem is though, even though they are fully staffed, it is likely someone will come and steal one of the HCA’s, or even a nurse to work elsewhere in the hospital.

Time to go home.  Get my rucksack.  Did not have time for my mentor to do anything in my portfolio today.  Will just have to wait for the next shift.  It’s dark again.  Head lights on full.  Thank the lord for the light traffic.  I would hate to think about how I would feel stuck behind a learner or a tractor as I wend my weary way home.  God, the dogs will be sulking.

Home, bag down, my lovely dogs pleased to see me.  It is 8.30pm.  It has been a long day.  Time for a cuppa, ring my mum and make sure she is okay.  Then a quick shower and then I should be able to hear my pillow whistling for me.

Yup, there it goes.   Good night all.  Until 5am tomorrow…

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Shift Planner for Nurses, Students & Support Staff

Matt B




Shift planning is essential for safe care, some people using a piece of paper others have their thoughts well arranged in their head, either way everybody does it.

This shift planner has been designed with newly qualified nurses and student nurses in mind but would be suitable for anybody to use.

You can download our Shift Planner for FREE. You are free to download, print and distribute our shift planner as you wish. You will need a PDF reader on your PC to download. 

The planner has been created with two primary columns, one for your main nursing priorities and one to remind you to hand over jobs to the next shift. It also features a small key and area for general notes. Due to limited space we have only included enough room to plan up to eight patients, if you need more we encourage you print doublesided.

We encourage you to make comments or suggestions in the comments section below. The most popular will be implemented in a version 2.

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