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Students dumped in training row

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Nursing students in London have found themselves at the centre of a row over pre-registration training standards.

Chelsea and Westminster Foundation NHS Trust said last week it would cease to provide Thames Valley University (TVU) with nursing student placements after March this year, citing continuing concerns over quality.

‘Chelsea and Westminster has taken action in response to concerns about the quality of educational support given to students by TVU,’ a trust spokesperson told NT. ‘We have made every effort to resolve our concerns but do not feel that enough progress has been made to resolve them.’

The trust declined to outline its specific concerns.

The move comes a week after RCN general secretary Peter Carter publicly criticised inconsistent levels in pre-registration training standards (NT News, 29 January, p8).

The university, which defended its educational standards, will now have to look elsewhere to place around 180 pre-registration nursing students each year. Nurses on placement and those who arranged placements before the decision was made will not be affected, and the trust confirmed it will consider nurses who have qualified from TVU for employment.

The west London hospital trust informed the 65 students currently on placement there of its decision just three weeks ahead of an annual review of the contract between the trust and the university.

Sandra Jowett, TVU pro-vice chancellor, criticised the trust for side-stepping the ‘evidence-based process for identifying issues and concerns’.

‘There is solid and consistent evidence of the quality of the university’s nursing and midwifery education,’ Professor Jowett said.

‘We have consistently met the standards set by, for example the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.’

A spokesperson for NHS London said it hoped the two sides could work together to manage the situation to support existing students.

‘NHS London is using its best endeavours to ensure that Thames Valley students have access to high-quality placement learning opportunities,’ he added.

Paul Turner, Council of Deans for Health executive officer, described the situation as unprecedented and said the trust should have addressed problems via the correct contractual processes.

The NMC said it was monitoring the situation but was not involved at present.

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