Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) has welcomed its first group of student nurses and student physiotherapists, who have joined the workforce early as part of a fast-track training programme to support the COVID-19 reponse.

‘Aspirant nurses’ are students in their final six months of study, who have taken up full-time paid roles while being supported to complete their studies. The first cohort of 14 are now working in in community hospitals and mental health wards across the Trust.

Three physiotherapy students have also attended LPT’s new clinical induction programme ready to start work as technical instructors at Loughborough Hospital.

The students’ experience has been planned in line with Health Education England’s standards for the deployment of students in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Daniel Given, student nurse at LPT, has taken up this opportunity and has started working at Watermead Ward at the Trust’s Bradgate Mental Health Unit in Leicester.
He said: “I was genuinely excited to be given this opportunity. I was already on a placement at Watermead Ward, and the entire service has made it such a seamless transition from being a student.

“I’m doing the academic learning alongside the job, which can be a little bit tricky to manage, but so far I’ve been able to find a good balance. The whole experience has been so positive because of the support I’ve received from the ward and also LPT’s learning and development team.”

Aspirant nurses remain under supervision and therefore have a supervisor/assessor within clinical practice to provide support and supervision. They are also given 7.5 hours protected learning time eachweek to allow them to continue their development as part of their third year of study.

Protected learning time can be used to undertake academic work or skills development. The practice learning team in LPT’s learning and development service are also providing individual telephone support for each nurse and weekly virtual action learning sets or clinical supervision sessions.

Daniel’s manager, Helen Pollard, ward sister on Watermead Ward said:
“It’s been really useful because Daniel was here as a student, he’s got to know the patients, the environment, the team, and the unit so it has been a really smooth transition.

He’s fit in really well with the team and gets on with everyone. Since joining us he has really grown and become independent.”

Director of nursing, AHPs and quality, Dr Anne Scott, said:“Like the rest of the NHS, our 6,500 staff are maintaining the delivery of critical services across all of our community hospitals, mental health and learning disability inpatient units and out in the community. Extra staffing enables us to safely staff wards and rapidly implement additional capacity in critical service areas, to care for patients who have or who are strongly suspected of having the virus, and who are in need of hospital care.
We are actively recruiting new staff and volunteers. If you are interested please visit our website www.leicspart.nhs.uk
During this unprecedented time for us all, we are extremely proud of all our staff for all of their hard work, professionalism and commitment.”