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Training course slashes back injuries among student nurses

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A new approach to training nurses in moving and handling has led to a 92% reduction in injuries among students on practice placements, according to its creators.

The posture awareness programme was developed by healthcare academics at Birmingham City University, who claim it could reduce the £4m lost by the NHS each year because of staff suffering back and other injuries.

“We have seen a drastic reduction in injuries amongst our students”

Stephen Wanless

The approach, which is based on the principles of body mechanics, was introduced in 2009 and is a key component of all the university’s undergraduate nursing, midwifery and other healthcare courses.

Last year 7,120 students did the training with just three reporting incidents of injury.

“Following the implementation of this new approach we have seen a drastic reduction in injuries amongst our students,” said Stephen Wanless, the university’s lead academic in moving and handling.

“Back injuries as a result of poor moving and handling techniques are all too common,” he said. “That is why it is so important anyone who is going to perform moving and handling tasks is properly trained.”

Birmingham City University

Steve Wanless

The programme teaches students about risk factors and includes online training to help students retain what they have learned, develop their skills and take responsibility for their own safety.

Mr Wanless estimated the training could help save the NHS money by reducing the amount of time staff spent off sick because of back and other musculoskeletal injuries.

“Despite moving and handling training being mandatory in the UK since 1992, 40% of NHS absences are related to musculoskeletal disorders that cost the health services around £4m every year,” he said.

“Based on the principles we have developed in our new training programmes, it could be possible to save the NHS millions of pounds a year,” he said.

The university has launched a Centre of Excellence in Posture, Movement and Handling with the aim of becoming a leader in the field.

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