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Concerns over PPE for nursing students as universities prepare for new academic year

New guidance advises on risk assessment, PPE and life assurance for clinical placements
Teaching use of PPE

New guidance advises on risk assessment, PPE and life assurance for clinical placements

Universities have raised concerns about being able to secure enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for their nursing students, according to new guidance.

The Council of Deans of Health (CoDH) the body that represents university faculties of nursing, midwifery and allied health has issued the guidance on returning to clinical placements as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Universities worried about PPE supplies for students

The guide addresses questions from higher education institution (HEI) on risk assessment, PPE and life assurance for students on clinical placements in the 2020-21 academic year.

'Some HEIs

New guidance advises on risk assessment, PPE and life assurance for clinical placements


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Universities have raised concerns about being able to secure enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for their nursing students, according to new guidance.

The Council of Deans of Health (CoDH) – the body that represents university faculties of nursing, midwifery and allied health – has issued the guidance on returning to clinical placements as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Universities worried about PPE supplies for students

The guide addresses questions from higher education institution (HEI) on risk assessment, PPE and life assurance for students on clinical placements in the 2020-21 academic year.

'Some HEIs are concerned about their ability to secure PPE for students, particularly where supplies were donated to the NHS during the peak of the pandemic,' the document states.

'The Council has raised this matter with Health Education England and asked that arrangements are put in place for university healthcare faculties to access enough PPE.'

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A Health Education England (HEE) spokesperson told Nursing Standard the safety of students was of 'paramount importance'.

‘While HEE is not directly responsible for sourcing PPE, we will ask HEIs and providers to give assurances that students have access to it as set out in the current Public Health England guidance,’ the spokesperson said.

Deferral of studies may be advisable for students in high-risk groups

The CoDH guidance highlights the importance of risk assessment for students, acknowledging some will be at greater risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms than others.

It suggests that students who have been identified as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or who have been shielding might be best advised to defer their studies.

Governments urged to review life assurance arrangements for students 

The guidance also acknowledges that death in service of healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic has created unease about students returning on placements.

'The council has asked governments in England and Scotland to review life assurance arrangements for students on placement, with a view to securing a comprehensive scheme to cover death from any cause related to healthcare placements,' the document reads.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Scottish Government were contacted for comment.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it will provide a temporary COVID-19-related death in service scheme for students on clinical placements in health and social care settings, to provide peace of mind to students and their families.

‘This provides a single lump sum payment of £60,000 to the next of kin of any student of a higher education institute, should the worst happen,’ the spokesperson said.


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