18,000 student nurses are being drafted in to help with coronavirus outbreak

Final year students are being recruited

The CEO of the NHS has announced that up to 18,000 student nurses will be mobilised to help tackle the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

The new initiative could see thousands of final year students being drafted in to the workforce, months before graduation.

Speaking at the Chief Nursing Officer’s Summit in Birmingham yesterday, Sir Simon Stevens announced that Covid-19 was the “single biggest challenge facing all European health services, and the NHS will be no exception.”

He added: “As we move through ‘contain’ and ‘delay’ phases into ‘mitigation’ we are going to have to look after an increasing number of people with coronavirus, and our own staff are going to be affected too.

“As part of sensible preparation, we want to invite up to 18,000 third year undergraduate nurses to help out on the front line, and we are working with regulators and staff organisations on this.”

The UK Government has laid out a four stage response plan to the virus. There are over 500 reported cases in the UK so far, with this number expected to increase rapidly over the coming weeks.

While the UK is still currently in phase one: “containment”, it’s expected that the government will soon escalate to phase two: “delay”.


Sir Stevens confirmed that it is not mandatory for students to work, rather that they will be invited, and subsequently paid for their contribution.

The Council of Deans of Health, the representative body for healthcare education, has confirmed they will be supporting the government’s decision, and believes that universities should help support the NHS.

Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, chair of the Council of Deans, said that they are “looking to the NHS to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of our students are clear and that everyone engaged in patient care has the support and supervision they need.

“Universities will also have a responsibility to monitor the impact on education, and will look for clarity from the regulators, not only around how they compensate for the loss of practice hours and teaching time but also how the additional experience they will have gained is recognised”.

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