To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the (a) safety of student nurses on coronavirus wards and (b) effect on the personal finances of those nurses of being at a high risk of having to isolate and lose the ability to do other part-time work.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
12 January 2021
The Government is clear that it is the responsibility of Health Education England (HEE), clinical placement providers and higher education institutions to undertake assessments at a local level to ensure the safety of student nurses in all placement settings. HEE has also led national level work to minimise the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on students on healthcare courses, including ensuring students have appropriate access to personal protective equipment, testing and wellbeing support whilst on placement. The detail of the support available was outlined in a letter sent by the Chief Nursing Officer for England and the Chief Nurse for Health Education England to all nursing students on 13 November 2020.
In terms of financial support, all eligible nursing students will continue to receive payments from the student loans company and also access the Learning Support Fund from the NHS Business Services Authority, which includes a non-repayable grant of at least £5,000 for eligible students, travel and dual accommodation expenses and parental support. In exceptional circumstances, whereby a student is required to self-isolate due to COVID-19, the NHS Business Services Authority is able to use discretion on a case by case basis to decide whether the student is eligible to additional support through the exceptional hardship grant.
Clinical placements provide supervised training. Student nurses are not paid but receive financial support to train. In March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, temporary opt-in paid student nursing placements were arranged to help with the COVID-19 pandemic response. Since the initiation of the opt-in paid placements, the Government was clear that this was a temporary arrangement, and that at the appropriate time, normal placements would resume.