Student nurses have been subject to many of the changes the government plans to implement in light of the Francis report.
Arguably the most drastic is the suggestion that before being given funding for a nursing course, potential nurses will have to work for a year as a healthcare assistant.
This has caused much debate on twitter. Some of you have asked how it will be possible to find HCA jobs for hundreds of potential nurses, whether these will be fully paid positions and how these pre-nursing students will be regulated.
@Chris_Ranks: “UoM takes on 400 nurses a year. Salford 400. MMU 140. 940 HCA positions in Mcr alone being recruited for then left each year. Madness.”
@Izzybee_ “Where are they going to find these HCA jobs? I am pretty sure there are hardly any jobs around as it is!”
@breakevenx “My first year of placement was mostly working as a HCA. And how will everyone that wants to do nursing be able to get a job as a HCA?”
On the other hand, many students have voiced that this echoes their own experience of getting in to nursing.
Some have said that your experience working as a HCA cemented your ambition to become a nurse and point out that ensuring potential nurses have hands-on experience would reduce drop-out rates.
@LucyIrisPuce “Of course STNs should work as HCAs first. So many people on my course came from college/retail and were so underprepared.”
@bscnbreanna “I am extremely thankful for my experience as a HCA. Facilitated my transition from a first to second year student with ease!”
@sarahmoxey “Pre-training experience should be mandatory. Some students don’t know what nursing is and sadly drop out after the first placement!”
The background to this proposal is Robert Francis QC’s recommendation that nurses must be recruited based on their ability to show compassion and empathy.
Mr Francis suggested three months’ hands-on care before their course and that all universities should use the same aptitude test to ensure their places go only to nurses who can demonstrate caring qualities.
By piloting this one-year scheme, the government is suggesting that the wrong people are currently being accepted on to nursing courses.
They argue that this pre-course year will not only put off those without compassion from applying for nursing places, but will also give students valuable experience to enable them to effectively manage healthcare assistants when qualified.
The government response states that “the scheme will need to be tested and implemented carefully to ensure that it is neutral in terms of cost.” The feeling from twitter is that this is unlikely to be the case.
The government has gone on to say that the possibility of extending this principle to other NHS trainees will be explored, answering many of your questions as to whether student doctors will also be subject to this additional year.
@sarahcshep “Perhaps if nurses should then doctors should as well?”
@stnmatthyde: “I think the high ups in the NHS should do a year of HCA work!”
@krissygomes “Good idea but if they make St/Ns do it, med students should be made to do the same. Possibly improve MDT working in the future.”
The government has assigned Health Education England and NHS Employers to develop an aptitude test that incorporates necessary professional values, such as a caring and compassionate attitude.
The government’s response also suggests that student nurses aren’t selected through “value-based recruitment” involving face-to-face interviews and scenario testing, although arguably these are already in place at most, if not all, institutions.
We’re told a full government response will be released later in the year that will hopefully answer some of your, and our, questions.
In the meantime, what do you think these proposals will achieve? Are you behind them?