East Suffolk and North Essex Hospitals become first to back pledge for healthcare students

The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust has become the first in the country to sign a UNISON pledge supporting healthcare students on clinical placements.

UNISON national nursing officer Stuart Tuckwood and ESNEFT chief executive Nick Hulme signed the pledge at Colchester Hospital on Wednesday.

UNISON polling has shown that across the county, healthcare students feel they don’t receive enough support on clinical placements, with many experiencing bullying or harassment. There are also concerns they’re not given enough advance notice of where placements will be and that their individual circumstances aren’t taken into account.

But the new pledge is designed to ensure students make the most of their placements at ESNEFT and across the NHS.

UNISON regional organiser Cheryl Godber, national nursing officer Stuart Tuckwood, branch secretary Natasha Hunt and ESNEFT chief executive Nick Hulme after signing the pledge

Employers signing the pledge commit to treating students with dignity and respect at all times, offering placements that works around students’ needs, adequately supervise students and make sure students have time to complete paperwork, as well as reflecting on and learning from their experiences with other professionals.

Trusts will be expected to work with universities to ensure students get six weeks’ notice of their placements and know where they can get the additional support if needed.

The pledge means practice supervisors will be given enough time to spend with their students, plan for placements and provide the necessary feedback and support to healthcare students.

Stuart with regional organiser Cheryl and branch officers Clare and Natasha

UNISON national nursing officer Stuart Tuckwood said: “Placements are absolutely essential for budding nurses and other healthcare professionals, but they can be an incredibly stressful and challenging time.

“For many, placements will be students’ first taste of life in the NHS so it’s vital that the experience is a positive one. Better placements won’t just benefit students: they’ll make life better for their supervisors, their patients and the whole health service.

“It’s great that ESNEFT has got on board and made this commitment to students. We look forward to other hospitals across the country making the same pledge to improve our NHS.”

ESNEFT director of human resources and organisational development Clare Conaghan said; “We have a strong partnership in place with staff representatives and unions and are delighted to back this important pledge for healthcare students.”

Stuart talks to staff at the Urgent Treatment Centre

After signing the pledge, Mr Tuckwood was shown around Colchester Hospital’s new Urgent Treatment Centre and Acute Medical Same Day Emergency Care Centre, hearing how high levels of staff engagement had gone into planning the new centres.

Read the full pledge

You can access UNISON resources on improving your own clinical placements here.