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Statement: Principles for nursing and midwifery students during the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic

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Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, student nurses and student midwives have played an essential part in supporting the health and social care workforce, while continuing their studies. Students in all four countries of the UK have stepped forward and been part of a global response to a situation unlike anything we have seen before; the work they have done has undoubtedly saved lives. We are exceptionally proud of everything nursing and midwifery students have achieved and want to thank them all, whatever role they have played.

The last few months have put unprecedented pressure on not just health and social care but on the university and higher education sector too. We have seen collaboration across these sectors that has resulted in the quick and successful implementation of our emergency education standards. Our thanks extend to everyone who worked hard to make this happen during these unprecedented times.

Following the NMC’s statement on 7 May confirming that nursing students will not be invited to join the temporary register, we have continued to consider what actions are needed to best support current students, people who are due to start nursing and midwifery courses, approved education institutions, and the wider health and social care system.

During this period we have worked closely with the Chief Nursing Officers, Chief Midwifery Officers, Council of Deans of Health, Royal Colleges and unions to review the current arrangements. Working with these stakeholders, it has been collectively decided that we will ask our Council to remove a number of the emergency education standards from 30 September 2020. This will enable students to continue their programmes and return to supernumerary status.

We appreciate that Universities will need to implement some changes to their ways of working to ensure that guidelines in relation to issues such as social distancing can be met, and we will retain some of the emergency standards to provide the flexibility to support this.

The decision to remove the emergency standards from 30 September 2020 has been made for the following reasons:

  • We need to focus on supporting current final year students to complete all aspects of their programmes to enable them to register at the time they expected 
  • We need to provide clarity for students, and provide a more predictable and stable learning environment for students in all years of study to continue their learning

Next steps

The NMC Council will review these proposals at their meeting on 2 July and we will provide a further update following their decision.

We fully supported the principle of financial reimbursement of students during their time in extended clinical placements, in recognition of the fact that their programmes had been disrupted as a result of the pandemic, and for their valuable contribution to service during this very difficult time. As the regulator we are rightly not involved in decisions about the nature or the administration of student remuneration. Therefore, following this statement, the relevant bodies in each UK country will publish guidance on the practicalities, arrangements and precise timings of this transition.

As our emergency education standards are facilitative rather than directive, universities may choose to transition their students off the emergency arrangements ahead of 30 September 2020.

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