Please find below an update to our initial response posted on 23 April 2020.
Stephen Griffiths, HEIW Director of Nursing, said:
Due to the unprecedented situation we are facing it is unfortunately not possible for universities to carry on educational programmes as normal. As a result, students have been provided with a number of options going forwards including taking up a paid student clinical placement, continuing their nursing educational studies in an academic environment or in rare situations choosing to have a break in their education programme.
Universities have been providing students with support and guidance around all the options to ensure they have all the information they need to make their own informed decision. No student has been forced in any way to take up a work placement, continue their studies or put their learning on hold.
Initial information shows almost all students have chosen either to take up a paid student placement in a clinical setting or continue with their educational studies. For personal reasons a very small number of students have chosen to put their studies on hold.
Continuing academic studies
We fully appreciate and understand due to personal situations some students are unable to carry out a clinical placement. These students remain valuable members of the healthcare community and we are keen for them to continue their learning during this time. There are a number of learning options open to them which the universities have identified and will contribute to their final degree. Students will also continue to receive their bursary unless they choose to have an interruption to their study.
With the learning options available it is rare for a student to put their studies on hold and we are always sad to see this happen. When it does universities continue to support students, discuss options outside of learning, and help them back into education as soon as possible should they wish to return.
Student clinical placements
We are very grateful to the 2,000+ students who have chosen to take a clinical placement and have been overwhelmed by their enthusiasm to join colleagues during this emergency.
Their safety and wellbeing is extremely important to all of us. In their paid role, they will continue to work as students on a learning placement basis, working within their student competency, supervised by a qualified nurse and supported by their university. They will not be taking on the role of a qualified nurse or tasks above their level of competence.
Location of placements
On their application students have said where they would prefer to work and everything possible is being done to meet these requests.
We are aware there are some Welsh residents who are studying nursing in English Universities who would like to opt-in in Wales, closer to home, rather than in England. We are doing all we can to help these students return to Wales for their opt-in placement.
Following the publication of the UK joint statement regarding nursing and midwifery students during the COVID19 response, in Wales, WG and HEIW developed guidance for students explaining what it means for them and options available so they could make an informed choice.