In March 2020, the HCPC, NMC, NHS, HEE and the Chief Nursing & Allied Health Officers for the four nations collaborated with the Council of Deans of Health and LHEG members on statements concerning temporary changes to nursing, midwifery and allied health student education following the emergence of Covid-19. LHEG produced principles to support the introduction of emergency standards to support both the deployment of healthcare students into the workforce and the progression of students through their programmes.

The response from students and educators in universities and practice was tremendous, with about 4,500 nursing and midwifery and about 800 Allied Health Profession students deployed into the workforce across London. We are proud of the contribution made by our students and academic staff.

Increase in student numbers

In September 2020, with the support of placement expansion and infrastructure investment, universities in London were able to admit increased numbers to their programmes, supporting the aims and objectives of both the Long Term Plan and the NHS People Plan. We are pleased to welcome students to our universities and recognise our responsibility in ensuring the progression of students through to registration, in collaboration with our practice partners.

The recent increase in infections and admissions to hospital among the UK population has prompted us to review our principles for working with students and practice partners, which were released in March 2020.

Overarching principles

  1. Our priority is to keep our students, supervisors and patients safe. Where we feel that students cannot be kept safe, or where their presence in a practice learning environment is unsafe for either themselves, colleagues or patients, we will work on identifying and implementing remedial action with placement providers or pause the student’s placement. We have well established procedures to do this, and all parties will take all reasonable steps in the best interests of students, supervisors and patient safety.
  2. We commit to supporting students to experience a high quality of practice education so they are able to qualify as healthcare professionals and we commit to supporting frontline NHS and other health service staff to meet the demands arising from the greatest public health crisis facing the UK in a generation.
  3. We commit to ensure that where further changes are needed to address a ‘second surge’ in Covid-19 infections we will work collaboratively across London with Health Education England, our practice partners and our students to agree on a common approach which will accord with national guidelines and regulatory requirements. We will prioritise working together to maximise completion and progression across all HEIs in London.
  4. Where placements are paused as a result of safety concerns, we will work with our practice partners and each other to identify alternative practice learning opportunities to give our students the best chances of success.
  5. We recognise that the continuation of supply of health professionals to the NHS and other employers is crucial, and we will continue to work together and with the wider system to endeavour to maintain intakes of students for our courses, taking whatever steps necessary to develop new ways of recruitment, admission, enrolment and induction of our students. We recognise that the increase in student numbers at a time when the NHS is especially challenged requires us to work collaboratively with each other and our practice partners to develop pioneering and innovative ways of operating to maximise placement capacity. We will work with Health Education England and our regulators, to explore the possibilities for current and future placements to secure the future NHS workforce.

Further detail and guidance

The NMC has published Recovery Standards and new resources: Caring with Confidence, the Code in action to support students and registrants working and learning in the current difficult times. The HCPC has developed advice and support for students and advice for registrants about applying HCPC standards during the pandemic .

Supporting institutions

Brunel University London
Bucks New University
City University London
Coventry University London a
University of Greenwich
King’s College London
Kingston University London
London South Bank University
Middlesex University London
Open University
St George’s, University of London
University of East London
University of Hertfordshire
University of Roehampton
University of West London