Liberal Democrats demand action on student nurses - 1 in 3 paediatric nurses at Caledonian University without jobs

21st May 2021

Local Liberal Democrats have called for action to guarantee that student paediatric nurses qualifying from Caledonian University this year have a job. The call comes after Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie raised the issue with the Scottish Health Minister – Caledonian nursing graduates wrote to Party leaders warning that over a third of the latest university cohort at Caledonian find themselves currently without a job.

South Lanarkshire Liberal Democrat Group Leader Robert Brown has written to the Chief Executive of Lanarkshire Health Board asking them to take urgent action to help.

Robert Brown said:

“These nurses completed 2,300 hours of unpaid work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, yet it appears that over a third of the latest university cohort at Glasgow Caledonian find themselves without a job. Not to put too fine a point on it, this is disgraceful and a scandalous waste of trained people.

Apart from the personal let down of the nurses, we need every qualified doctor and nurse we can get to help the country recover from the pandemic and tackle the enormous waiting lists we are left with. We ought to be building the Scottish NHS for recovery, not watching talented staff go elsewhere for a job.

Qualified nurses will go to a variety of Health Board areas for employment – but Lanarkshire Health Board must make sure they take as many as possible.”


Notes to editors:

An example of the correspondence received by party leaders is below:

18th May 2021

Dear MSP

I am a Student Paediatric Nurse studying at Glasgow Caledonian University in my final year of training. I write to you today as I am concerned at the high level of student nurses who were not granted a position in the NHS.

In order to qualify as Paediatric Nurses, students are required to work a total of two thousand three hundred hours unpaid work. We are continuously assessed while in clinical practice and have shown our worth to the service these past three years. Being a University degree, we are also expected to study full time, complete assignments and pass exams. We have sacrificed throughout our time as student nurses in order to care for the people of Scotland. Recently with the Covid-19 pandemic, student  nurses like myself were called to action to aid our healthcare colleagues. Many left their homes and their families to keep them safe. We were all made aware of the situation that we were headed into, including future health complications and the risk of losing our own lives.

We answered the call.

In regards to the application process, only one weeks’ notice was given to students to prepare for the process of employment, with little guidance being given. It should be noted that at this time that my colleagues were working full time for free as student nurses, working 12.5 hour shifts, day and night as well as applying ourselves to the demands of University and working part time to allow us to provide for ourselves and our families. All in the middle of a pandemic.

The interviews themselves were incredibly short. My own interview lasted only eight minutes including introductions and pleasantries. It has also been brought to my attention that no references were contacted and zero considerations were taken into account such as our previous work experience and feedback -which we have three years of and is easily accessible- from the very hospital in which we applied for. 

Following the interview when we discovered the outcome of our employment, it was communicated to us that should we want to, we can contact a member of the recruitment team for individual feedback. Reflection is an incredibly important skill for Nurses to possess and is even highlighted by the code set up by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Although not a requirement by law, in a situation when time is crucial for applying for other roles, feedback is incredibly important to those in this position. However, no contact details were given, and when students attempted to make contact, we were told that individual feedback was now no longer possible and instead the university would have to handle the situation. Despite them having no involvement in the process.

These Student Nurses put their lives on the line to ensure that the NHS was able to carry out vital care to the children of Scotland. These Students have gone through a trial by fire and have emerged as amazing Nurses.

These future Nurses have now been told that there is no space for them.

Personally, I was dumbfounded when I acquired the number of truly remarkable nurses that were not going to be employed. Our University has also shared in our disbelief due to the high number of unsuccessful candidates despite glowing feedback from our previous work in the Royal Hospital for Children.

Over a third of my university cohort are in the same position that I face right now. Within the upcoming weeks we will be transitioning out of university with unclear futures. In a time when the world is calling out for more nurses, myself and others find ourselves in a peculiar situation where our talents are not wanted. With the lack of opportunities for my fellow future Paediatric Nurses in this country, many are looking for opportunities abroad despite being trained and funded in Scotland.

I write to you asking:

“What can be done to give the future Nurses of this country the opportunity to do what they were trained to do?”

Your support to my plea for action would be greatly appreciated by myself and my colleagues. We truly want to make a positive difference to the children and families of Scotland.

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