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Rethinking clinical placements

28 March 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 6


Sam Foster, Chief Nurse, Oxford University Hospitals, considers the issues around supporting learners in practice, the changes already outlined and the challenges for those at senior level

Against the backdrop of over 40 000 registered nursing vacancies nationally, and a fall in applications to study nursing by a third since the final year of the bursary in 2016, the Royal College of Nursing (2019) has detailed a number of areas in the Long-Term Plan (LTP) for NHS England that aim to address the current position:

The LTP (NHS England and NHS Improvement, 2019) includes an extra 5000 clinical placements funded from 2019/20—this represents an increase of 25%. NHS leaders are shaping a separate workforce implementation plan to detail how this will be delivered.

Concerns about placement capacity have been discussed for a number of years. Merrifield (2016) reported the concerns being raised at that time by both pre-registration students and the Council of Deans that the clinical placement situation was ‘fragile’. In 2016 Health Education England (HEE) appointed Karen Sheehy as an academic fellow, in response to the challenge of the increasing number of adult commissions for placement providers in terms of placement capacity and the added pressure that this would put on nurse mentors. During her time in post she highlighted the growing importance of mentoring in nursing (HEE, 2016), referring to a number of reviews such as the Shape of Caring, led by Lord Willis, where it was identified that many services in England were exploring innovative ways of supporting learners in practice to address the issues of increasing capacity issues (HEE, 2015).

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