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Clap for our Carers: MDX nursing and midwifery students on front line of coronavirus response

MDX providing continuous personal development training to returning NHS retirees and supporting Tavistock Clinic wellbeing programme

At 8pm on Thursday 26th March, people from all around the UK took part in the national Clap for our Carers campaign, applauding doctors, nurses and carers who are working incredibly hard in such challenging circumstances during the coronavirus outbreak to help keep us safe and save our lives.

At MDX, we are proud to play our part in London’s and national efforts to tackle COVID-19. As part of London Healthcare Education Group, MDX works alongside all London higher education institutions and our NHS partners that deliver nursing and midwifery programmes. Since the coronavirus crisis started, these groups have been meeting almost daily about how to work in an efficient and effective way to prepare students for working on the frontline when the government's coronavirus emergency bill – allowing our students to extend their clinical placements and for our finalists to potentially be registered on the ‘emergency Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register’ – is passed, and to ensure students are fully supported when they go into practice. We also continue to work with our wider partnerships in the private, independent and social care sectors.

All MDX second and third year nursing and midwifery students will either be in practice, in our North Central London partner trusts such as the Whittington, Royal Free and Moorfields Eye Hospital, or returning to practice during the crisis. MDX staff are working with Health Education England (HEE) to identify who is ready to go onto the government's emergency register if they opt in. Up to 500 MDX nursing and midwifery students will be mobilised to help in total.

While first years are paused in their clinical placements, MDX has been working with Capital Nurse, a programme to ensure excellent nursing is delivered collaboratively across London to meet healthcare needs, to enable them to nominate themselves as Healthcare Assistants. 96 first year students have volunteered for this so far. MDX also has trainee nurse associates on an apprenticeship route - a programme which has grown rapidly and is up for a 2020 Student Nursing Times award - who will be going back to help their employer Trusts as Healthcare Assistants.

Students are being surveyed today and tomorrow about whether they want to opt in or not to the emergency register. “Given the prevalence and spread of the virus, all students will be taking risks on our behalf, and while we did not anticipate anything less, we are so grateful for the outstanding contribution they are offering " says Head of School of Health and Education, Professor Carmel Clancy.

MDX Nursing and Midwifery has an extensive CPD contract with many of our NHS local providers and as part of this we are actively engaged in upskilling staff in key clinical skills: this work continues, with many of our own clinical/tech staff going into clinical trusts to deliver. With the coronavirus outbreak, the demand for CPD has increased: the clinical skills lab on campus is on standby to be deployed as required.

MDX staff are also supporting North Central London NCL In Mind, a project by the Tavistock Centre pulling together all resources in wellbeing.  The context for developing this initiative centres on the need to safeguard our health and social care staff's emotional wellbeing throughout what is anticipated to be a protracted period of extremely challenging working conditions. There are circa 52,000 staff directly employed by the 12 NCL provider trusts alone, which doesn’t take account of our colleagues in commissioning, primary care or social care, and academia. The project intends to coordinate communications and easily disseminate psycho-social education tools for improving mental wellbeing.

Professor Clancy adds - "A nurse is a nurse is a nurse. It doesn't matter whether you're in front line, in a care home or an academic institution. First and foremost you're a nurse. From an educational, management or professional point of view we're all playing our part".

Dr Sinead Mehigan and Associate Professor Kathy Wilson, from the Senior Leadership Team for Nursing and Midwifery say: "MDX has offered a Nursing degree since the 1990s.

"Innovation has always been one of the university's key strengths, particularly in the healthcare area. We support students who have come to us through non-traditional educational routes; we were one of 11 national pilot sites for the Nursing Associate programme and we've been instrumental in leading on, and giving support to, secondments in the Capital Nurse programme.

"We have led on the development of the Pan-London Assessment Document that enables us to work in partnership with other universities to guide and support our learners' progress in practice. This all stands us in good stead in working collectively to tackle the coronavirus outbreak"

"We are working with policy makers and the Nursing and Midwifery Council to devise what is necessary on a daily basis and are drawing up rapid programmes to upskill practice returners.

"It is impossible to fully recognise the impact this unknown situation is having on our students, many of whom are soon be on the front line, and our academic staff are providing essential and continuous support. Our nursing team have been absolutely outstanding in pulling together at this time of crisis".

Third year Child nursing student and Nursing Times columnist Zoe Carciente, who curated the @NHS Twitter account for a week in January says: “I was possibly a little hesitant at first when I heard that third years could opt in to a temporary register to help in the effort. But I am working with a team [on placement] where, however busy the nurses are, I feel completely supported. They find time to explain, demonstrate and teach so that I will learn the skills to care for our patients. Their confidence in me has helped me see that being on the temporary register won’t just be fine, it will be a privilege to be able to work with them and care for our patients”.

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