King’s medical placements suspended due to coronavirus

King’s medics could be asked to volunteer for the NHS to help with the outbreak

On Friday, all clinical placements for King’s medical students were suspended with immediate effect, while students were told they could soon be asked to act as volunteers for the NHS.

Tim Lancaster, Dean of Medical Education, emailed Medicine MBBS students advising them that “until further notice” they should not attend their clinical placements.

Lancaster explained the decision was reached because of coronavirus causing “increasing pressures on NHS services and the consequent difficulties in providing teaching and supervision of medical students.”

On Friday, Chris Mottershead, Senior Vice President, sent an email confirming the situation would be reviewed on a weekly basis and that King’s would “resume clinical placements as soon as the NHS is in a position to support them.”

Mottershead added “the NHS is facing increasing pressure on services in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and by taking this decision, we are freeing up clinicians to focus on delivery of care.”

Lancaster advised students there is a “national discussion” taking place between the General Medical Council (GMC), British Medical Association (BMA), and Health Education England about “the possibility of senior students acting as volunteers in clinical services.”

Students will not be asked to perform duties “beyond their competence”, meaning “students will not be asked to act up as junior doctors.”

There are currently “no local plans to approach students”, but King’s medics could soon be asked if they are “willing to support” the NHS by volunteering to perform duties they are already competent in.

Exams and assessments are affected, with medics told to expect an email early next week with details of the new arrangements.

Medical students were told “there will be modifications to portfolio requirements” so they won’t be placed at a disadvantage due to inability to complete their clinical placements.

Electives have been cancelled for term three, with students told those who were “due to go on their electives in term three” are “no longer permitted to do so”, while the Career Development Period module has been cancelled altogether.

Next week will be the last week of classroom-based teaching at King’s, with teaching to be delivered online from 23 March until at least the beginning of May.

Mottershead said “these are extraordinary and uncertain times and we are not taking these decisions lightly. We believe this is the best course of action to protect our community of students and staff.”

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