The HEE statement reads as follows, for full details visit the AHPs page here.
The Allied Health Profession students are advised that placements continue as planned. Please do not pause or cancel any placements. In addition, for students who wish to volunteer, this should be undertaken separately from your planned placement.
HEE is continuing to support the wider system in delivering vital services, but also need to fulfil our responsibility to look after our trainees and meet their educational and training needs.
Thank you to all students, academics and clinical staff supporting students in placement during the pandemic. Our priorities during this challenging time are the education of student allied health professionals, supporting their learning and maintaining the workforce supply line.
Universities and placement providers will undertake an individualised risk assessment before any placement and ensuring that wellbeing support is available. Students will have access to the same testing and vaccinations as NHS staff. We are working together to support current students through their programmes, we will monitor placement hours and resolve issues to ensure that students progress.
Over this time, we will also repeat the COVID-19 pandemic student survey to ensure that your experience and feedback is captured and that we continue to learn.
Position on use of AHP students for COVID-19 vaccinations
We have a clear position that AHP students will not be considered as part of the workforce to deliver a mass vaccination programme.
Our priority is to maintain student education programmes to ensure a future workforce is available to meet the growing demands of the health and social care system. Vaccinations is not part of the required skill set of AHPs and therefore will not add value to their education.
The workforce required for vaccinations is a longer-term requirement, potentially over several years, this requires a sustainable workforce model.
Student AHPs may choose to work as bank HCAs and provide vaccinations (assuming adequately trained and supervised) outside of their student programme.
Essential worker role
The Department for Health and Social Care and the Department for Education has confirmed that for the purposes of essential travel to clinical placements and in the event of any future need for accessing keyworker places, healthcare students on placement can self-declare as essential workers.
As set out above, students on clinical placement within a Trust will also be classed as ‘essential’ for the purposes of testing and have clear and accessible testing routes available when symptomatic, according to where in the NHS their placement is. In addition, healthcare students undertaking clinical placements will be included in testing decisions undertaken by the host Trust on the asymptomatic testing of NHS staff.
Further details on essential workers can be found here.
The NHS & Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme provides additional financial protection for frontline staff who are employed to deliver care for people and work in environments that carry an increased risk of contracting Coronavirus.
Whilst the scheme is designed to cover employed staff, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care recognises the importance of the role students on placement play in supporting frontline health and social care services and so can exercise his discretion and consider cases from individuals who meet the appropriate eligibility criteria.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will review each case individually to decide whether to exercise this discretion and if the other eligibility criteria are met. As with claims for employed NHS staff, there is no blanket guarantee that a claim will be accepted however the availability of the scheme provides reassurance.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Like all other NHS staff, the level of PPE required by students on placement will vary according to the role and setting. Placement providers will ensure that students have access to appropriate PPE and the relevant training throughout their placement.
Any concerns with a PPE product should be reported through the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) yellow card scheme for medical devices, and for other types of PPE where the issues are not resolved locally, they should be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) through their Concerns and Advice Team.
More on the MHRA yellow card scheme here
Contact the HSE Concerns and Advice Team
Image courtesy of St George’s University Hospitals