Given the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential impact on healthcare placements, we want to support the safety and ongoing learning in practice placement environments of all our healthcare students. Your safety – and that of your patients – is the Faculty’s priority.
The COVID-19 outbreak is a fast-moving situation and as with any new strain of virus, the guidance for healthcare workers and health and social care services is being developed and updated frequently. All healthcare students should familiarise themselves with their local policies on emergency planning, infection prevention and control and other relevant guidance, in addition to any national guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care and the relevant UK Public Health agencies [see below for links].
We understand that the evolving situation may cause worry and anxiety about your practice, and concern about how it may affect your learning on your programme. If you have any immediate concerns about how the COVID-19 outbreak may impact your learning that are not addressed in the FAQs below, please contact your academic support tutor (AST) or programme/year lead.
Where can I get the latest information on the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms?
The University of Hull has dedicated web pages that offer advice and guidance to staff and students - https://www.hull.ac.uk /coronavirus. This is updated regularly in response to any developments in the outbreak and/or changes in guidance. Please monitor your University email regularly for updates.
Department of Health and Social Care & Public Health England (PHE): Coronavirus: latest information and advice. This page includes the current situation in the UK and actions taken in the UK and abroad.
Public Health England are also regularly updating their advice here: Novel coronavirus: what you need to know.
Frequently asked questions:
What should I do if there is a patient with suspected or confirmed coronavirus in my practice placement area?
All staff and students who may be required to deliver clinical care to affected patients should have the necessary skills and experience and be provided with training and information on any additional infection prevention and control measures needed to work in such environments, including the safe donning and removal of personal protective equipment (PPE).
If you have any concerns about your ability to provide care to patients affected by COVID-19 – for example, if you have a health issue that you feel makes you more vulnerable - please speak with your mentor/practice supervisor, or contact the practice learning facilitator for your area. If you remain concerned, please contact your AST.
We are aware that NHS Trusts are identifying specific areas to accommodate patients with COVID-19. Given the impact on the learning environment, we would not expect students to continue to practice on a designated COVID-19 area. However, these developments are still at an early stage, and we are reviewing them on a daily basis. If you are currently placed on a potential COVID-19 area, you will be contacted by our placement team to discuss next steps.
What should I do if I think I have contracted coronavirus, or have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus outside of the clinical environment?
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
NHS guidance is to not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.
Stay at home guidance
Many of you will have seen the latest Government information that states people with a new continuous cough or fever are to self-isolate for 7 days, with the aim of reducing the number of virus cases at one time. If you have a household member who has one or both of these symptoms you (and everyone in the household) needs to self-isolate for 14 days. You can read the Government’s Stay at home guidance here.
In this instance you should:
- follow the usual sickness reporting mechanisms for healthcare students.
- stay at home – do not go to placement or University
- not use public transport or taxis
- ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
- try to avoid visitors to your home – it's okay for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food
There is government guidance on the actions taken by healthcare workers who come into contact with patients with COVID-19. Specifically, this guidance states that if you come into contact with a COVID-19 patient while not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), you can remain at work. You should:
- not attend work if you develop symptoms while at home (off-duty), and notify the placement and University (via the student hub) immediately
- self-isolate and immediately inform your placement area and University if symptoms develop whilst at work
- refer to the stay at home guidance
The University has suspended University-related overseas travel.
If you are returning to the UK from personal travel, from any country, please do NOT return to the campus or go into practice, even if you have no symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), until it has been 7 days since you returned to the UK.
If you develop symptoms at any point during this period, then you will need to self-isolate for 7 days from the point of symptom onset.
What happens if I miss theory and/or practice hours due to self-isolation or illness?
If you need to self-isolate and take time away from your studies or placement, it is important that you report this to the student hub via the online Student Information Desk (SID) or on 01482 463342. Please also copy in the University Action Line at email@example.com . You will then be offered individual support and advice around occupational health, and academic and practice learning support, as necessary. If you are tested for or test positive for the virus, please ensure that you are following healthcare advice (including the need to self-isolate) and contact the student hub and your AST immediately.
In both instances, individualised support to help you achieve programme requirements will be offered.
Reporting absence from placement procedure
If you need to report as absent whilst on placement, please notify your placement area in advance of their shift starting. You must also notify the Faculty Student Hub via SID or alternatively via telephone on 01482 463342 as soon as possible (before 12.00 noon on the first day of absence).
I am planning an overseas alternative placement - how might this affect me?
Please note that as of 11th March 2020, the University has suspended all overseas travel, including placements, until the end of April 2020 at the earliest. We will be contacting those students who are scheduled to be on overseas placement to discuss arrangements, and what support/adjustments can be put in place.
What if I miss too many practice hours due to self-isolation? Will the NMC still allow us to register if we do not meet the required practice hours?
We are aware that one of the issues that will cause greatest anxiety, particularly among final year students, is how the COVID-19 outbreak may impact on your ability to undertake the required practice hours. As the number of required hours is a legal requirement for registration, it is highly unlikely the NMC or HCPC will change their rules on this. However, please be reassured that the Faculty will work with you to help you achieve the necessary practice hours. If you find yourself with a practice hours deficit, your AST will support you on an individual basis to achieve the requirements.
Is there any likelihood of our placements being cancelled in the event of a more widespread outbreak within the UK?
As things stand, clinical placements will be continuing as planned. This is to ensure that you have the opportunity to complete as many practice learning hours as possible, and meet as many practice learning outcomes as possible. It is also important to try and continue clinical placement activity, as these are essential parts of your programme that cannot be carried out remotely (unlike theory elements).
We are aware than some individual placement providers have made a decision to stop offering placements for the time being. Whenever we are made aware of this, we are working with those students affected to find alternative arrangements.
What if I am in a vulnerable group? Do I continue on placement?
There will also be some of you who are pregnant or have underlying health conditions, and in whom additional precautions are required. Based on the latest government guidance and advice from Occupational Health, if you fall into one of these vulnerable groups, you should leave placement immediately. You must then inform the University (as outlined in the frequently asked questions), so that the programme team are aware and can put in place the necessary support.
Where else can I go for help and advice?
The University has set up a dedicated Action Line. This is open Monday to Thursday 8.45am- 5.30pm, and 8.45am- 4.30pm on a Friday. Telephone: 01482 464020; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adapted from a document produced by the Department of Health Sciences, University of York – many thanks to them for providing us with permission to use and amend it. Last update 17/03/20