Neil Withnell: ‘We fully embrace the Speak Out Safely campaign to empower our students’
Patient care and safety is at the forefront of everything that we do, says Neil Withnell
The School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences at the University of Salford is extremely proud to support the Nursing Times Speak Out Safely campaign.
As a large school that has approximately 2,500 pre-registration nursing and midwifery students, we maintain high standards and ensure that patient care and safety is at the forefront of everything that we do.
Our students are positively encouraged to take advantage of the many care-related opportunities on offer to them and many students have successfully become Care Makers, Student Quality Ambassadors and Dementia Friends.
‘We are signed up to the Nursing Times Speak Out Safely campaign because we fully embrace any initiative that further empowers students in becoming confident, independent thinking practitioners’
The school sees students as equal partners and the student’s charter within the university highlights this partnership and the vital contribution that the students make to their education. It is testimony to this partnership that a key driver for joining this campaign was the positive and confident encouragement from student nurses to ensure that our school was behind the campaign.
Student nurses are the future workforce and we strive to ensure that the curriculum that we deliver enables students to recognise and value the direct impact they can have on patient care.
Our approach is set against the context of adopting the chief nursing officer’s 6Cs, the Francis inquiry, the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s guidance on raising and escalating concerns, the Care Quality Commission’s whistleblowing guidance and the Patients First agenda.
Many students often find it difficult to speak out as they are new to the profession, are being assessed in practice, and are looking for permanent employment upon completion of their nurse education and training.
Alongside this they can be often unsure of what they see in practice and whether standards are being maintained.
All of these factors make it very difficult for students to speak out if they witness something that impacts on patients’ care.
As a school we fully embrace the 6Cs and explore these in the classroom setting. We have adopted these principles to underpin and shape the relationship we have with our students, our partners in practice and with each other as academics.
Students are encouraged and supported to be courageous and to discuss any issues that they see in practice. Students are aware that local health and social care providers have whistleblowing policies and are keen to enhance patient care without prejudice.
The school provides support for students from the beginning of their nursing career, during placement and following placement. All student nurses have a personal tutor, programme leader, and are supported in practice by mentors, practice education facilitators and university link lecturers.
The level of support is important to ensure that students have the best possible platform on which they can feel safe with the encouragement to act in patients’ best interests.
We are signed up to the Nursing Times Speak Out Safely campaign because we fully embrace any initiative that further empowers students in becoming confident, independent thinking practitioners.
This initiative will help to form the practitioners of the future, who can further drive up standards in healthcare services.
Neil Withnell is senior lecturer in mental health nursing at the University of Salford