More than 90 student nurses have volunteered to start work on hospital wards before completing their studies to help South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in its campaign against COVID-19.
The third year students, who are in their last six months of training, will be known as aspirant nurses and will take on extended placements at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton as paid members of staff.
Eighty aspirant nurses will be placed on adult wards, while a further 11 will specialise in children’s services from Wednesday 22 April.
The students, predominantly from Teesside University, answered a national call to start work on the wards ahead of schedule, while still completing their university assignments.
Joanne Porritt, 30, of Normanby, was among those who volunteered. She said: “I decided to volunteer because I’m in my final six months of nursing practice at Teesside University and I thought I needed to put the skills to use that I have already obtained and help the NHS in this time of crisis. I’m looking forward to getting hands on and doing my bit while gaining experience.”
Aimie Newcombe, 24, of Peterlee, also put herself forward for the aspirant nurse role. She said: “I’m also in my final year of university and I feel that I’m ready to put myself out there. I’m really nervous, but I’m really excited.”
Eileen Aylott, associate director of nursing for education and workforce at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it was absolutely fantastic that so many students had put themselves forward to help on the frontline:
“They are very brave for stepping in and we will look after them,” she said.
“Each university had to ask all their students if they wanted to opt in and I’m very proud of them for volunteering to help us in these current times.
“Having these aspirant nurses on the wards is going to make a huge difference to us.”
Dr Susy Cook, associate dean (learning & teaching), School of Health & Life Sciences, Teesside University, said: “Our student nurses will be an amazing asset to the NHS as we continue to face challenging times ahead. We are all incredibly proud of them and wish them well.”
The Nursing and Midwifery Council has indicated that a temporary COVID-19 register for aspirant nurses is likely to be launched nationally in the near future. This will see all aspirant nurses promoted to temporary registered nurse roles known as pre-graduate nurses.