Sheffield student nurse speaks out about her awful treatment throughout the pandemic

“I wouldn’t want anybody to have to go through what I did”

A student nurse from Sheffield Hallam University has spoken out about her “incredibly stressful” experience throughout the pandemic, after she was left in the dark over her placement for three months and her contract was changed to force her to work for free.

Charlotte Boon, a second-year adult nursing student, chose to opt in to work with the NHS and help throughout the coronavirus outbreak so that she could reach the amount of hours in practice needed to graduate.

But over three months, with little communication from her uni, Charlotte had three placements allocated to her – all of which were then cancelled.

After months of emails and even a letter to the local MP, Charlotte finally found a placement – just to be told that her contract had changed and she will have to work three weeks for free.

Speaking to The Tab, Charlotte said: “I’ve been left feeling on edge for three months. It felt like I was fighting a losing battle.

“I was constantly having to get into contact with people and not having responses. I still believe nobody is taking responsibility. No one has sympathised with my situation.

“I want someone to admit that there have been massive issues and that this cannot happen again for other students.

“It just isn’t fair and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel the way I’ve felt for the past three months. It doesn’t make me very confident about going into third year at university.”

In emails to Charlotte from Sheffield Hallam seen by The Tab, Charlotte was offered 22.5 hours per week, paid at NHS band three. However, throughout the time that her three placements at Leicester, Sheffield and Doncaster were cancelled, a government policy meant that six weeks into her nine-week contract, her payment will stop.

It means that on top of the stress of three months with no placement, she will not get paid the same as her peers for her work in the crisis.

Mark Radford, HEE Chief Nurse, told students their work was “hugely appreciated” and said: “Any Year Two students on placement till July 31st will be paid, and after this normal non-paid placements will be re-introduced.

“We committed at the outset of the pandemic to ensure that these students complete their training and are able to qualify. We would like to thank all those students who were able to come forward to support the NHS at this challenging time.”

Charlotte is currently working on the front-line at Sheffield Teaching Hospital and will reach the number of hours in practice she needs. She hopes that by speaking out about what she’s been through, nobody else will have to experience what she did.

A spokesperson for Sheffield Hallam University said: “We understand this has been, and continues to be, an incredibly challenging period for our students.

“As a University we have worked tirelessly with our NHS partners and Health Education England to ensure our students could continue their courses safely and secure placements if their personal circumstances permitted.

“We have worked closely with this student and her family during this period to secure a work placement.

“A number of circumstances outside the University’s control, including the area of the UK where the student wanted to undertake her placement, had an impact on the time taken to secure the placement.

“We remained in contact with the student and her family as the situation progressed to ensure they were updated in a timely manner.”

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Featured image credit: P L Chadwick labelled for reuse under this Creative Commons License. Changes made by The Tab. For original image see here.