I want to thank all of the students across Wales who were in a position to come forward and support our health and care services during the Covid-19 outbreak. It was right that those opting to work in clinical practice under supervision during the outbreak would be paid for their work. Their contribution is hugely appreciated and valued and I am very proud of the part that student nurses and midwives have made in supporting health and care services in Wales, whilst also continuing with their education programmes.
Wales committed at the outset of this pandemic that our priority was to ensure any emergency measures would not unduly affect students’ ability to complete their education programmes and that they would be in a position to register as professionals as they had planned and expected at the start of their course.
We established an all Wales contract for students here to ensure consistent experience while on paid clinical placements and I am grateful to the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership for their work in implementing these arrangements. We have been clear that the arrangements would need to come to an end at an appropriate point so that students could return to their normal studies and return to being supernumerary and supervised while in clinical placements.
I have been very clear that in Wales all student deployment contracts will be honoured until they come to their conclusion at either three or six months. On completion of these contracts students will either transition into roles as registrants or where students will be supported to resume all aspects of their nursing and midwifery programmes. We recognise that for those on six month contracts there will be some flexibility required in respect of the end date of these contracts to facilitate movement through our student streamlining scheme into substantive posts as registrants.
Since the start of the pandemic we have been working closely with Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW,) our health and social care partners, our Universities and our professional bodies (RCN and RCM) to support students under the emergency Nursing and Midwifery Council programme arrangements and I am very grateful for all the hard work by all of those involved.
As we prepare for possible further peaks, we will need to continue to consider how we can make best use of the skills and commitment of nurses and other health care students whilst protecting their wellbeing and future careers.