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Scotland's NHS staffing crisis won't be solved by deploying student nurses, Union warns

SCOTLAND’S NHS staffing crisis will not be solved by using student nurses, Unison warned today.

SNP ministers have confirmed that 12,000 students will be deployed across the health service north of the border to help fight Covid-19.

The rapid spread of the omicron variant has caused many staff to go off sick or be forced to self-isolate, exacerbating a record high for vacancies which pre-dated the pandemic. 

Some 3,000 nursing and midwifery students are being sent on placement throughout this month, with a further 7,000 set to join them in February, ministers said.

A further 1,500 allied health professional students and 500 of their paramedic peers will also be deployed next month.

Placements in active healthcare settings form part of several university courses.

Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf “wholeheartedly” thanked the students who would be supporting healthcare.

“As part of their professional programme of education, these students have worked tirelessly to support our NHS, making an invaluable contribution to the delivery of care as part of their supervised practice,” he said.

“As we go into a third year facing up to the challenges of Covid, we are fortunate to combine good quality learning attained by students as part of their supervised practice with the positive impact these students have on the delivery of safe, effective patient care.”

Unison Scotland’s head of health Willie Duffy welcomed the help but said that students need adequate supervision and should not be expected to complete more complex tasks. 

He told the Morning Star: “The staffing crisis in the NHS is an ongoing issue and, while this is helpful, it is not enough on its own.

“The Scottish government needs to give a firm commitment to increasing student places in colleges and universities as a matter of urgency.”

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