Health Education England clarifies its position on ending paid student placements

Some final-year students will be paid until September, but others are feeling short-changed

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Clarification comes after confusion over end date of paid placements

Health Education England (HEE) has clarified its position on paid placements for nursing students as part of the COVID-19 response.

It comes as some nursing students took to social media to say they were worried about their finances as paid placements were ending earlier than they had expected.

One nursing student, Becky Jane, wrote on Facebook: ‘Some of us left jobs for this. Many of us have children and families to care for.’

Paid placements for nursing students were announced in March as part of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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It meant nursing students would be paid from April if they chose to finish their programmes on extended clinical placements.

Final-year students will be paid until September if they have hours to complete

In a statement on Wednesday, HEE chief Mark Radford confirmed final-year students in England will be paid until 31 July. If they have completed hours and assessments, they can then qualify and be paid as registered nurses.

Any final-year student who still has hours to complete will be paid until September, Professor Radford added.

Any second-year students on placement will be paid until 31 July. After this, normal non-paid placements will be reintroduced.

‘It is absolutely untrue to suggest that student nurses and midwives are being made redundant; all student nurses and midwives are required to complete placements during their training,' Professor Radford said.

‘These placements are normally unpaid but to recognise the special circumstances, and as part of the response to COVID-19, these hours have been paid and will be until the end of summer.

'Paid placements need to come to an end at an appropriate point'

Professor Radford added: ‘It was always made clear to students who opted in to paid placements that the arrangements would need to come to an end at an appropriate point so they could return to their supernumerary status, complete their registered nursing qualifications as quickly as possible and permanently enter the NHS workforce.’

PA news agency said that HEE was unable to immediately confirm whether students were told at the start of their placements that for most of them paid placements would only continue until the end of July.

It said some NHS trusts may have awarded six-month contracts, while others offered three months.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: 'Student nurses up and down the country have cut their studies short, and in some cases left other jobs, to go and work on the front line as part of the national effort to combat coronavirus.

'Their personal commitment should be recognised and reciprocated by the government. They do not deserve to be cast aside like this.'

Scotland and Wales clarify their position on the end of paid placements

Elsewhere in the UK, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said contracts for paid placements for final-year students would continue until 30 September, but can be terminated by mutual agreement earlier if students qualify and move onto the permanent Nursing and Midwifery Council register.

Second-year nursing students will be on paid placements until 31 August.

In Wales, nursing students who opted to be part of the extended register as part of the COVID-19 response while in their second year or the first half of their third year will be on paid contracts until the end of July. Students in the final half of their final year will be paid until the end of August.

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