Four hundred midwives, paramedics and other healthcare students are taking up frontline health care roles as part of the University of Bradford’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many have already taken up positions in the NHS in hospitals including Bradford Royal Infirmary, Bradford District Care Trust, the Mid-Yorkshire NHS Trust, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, Airedale General Hospital and Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) and others are due to follow in the coming weeks and months.
In addition, some university teaching staff are ‘gifting’ their time to the NHS to train frontline workers, including three critical care nurses providing training in the new NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber, Harrogate.
Their early deployment forms part of a national effort to bolster the NHS to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic and is just part of the University of Bradford’s response to the virus outbreak.
Former clinical nurse Ruth Girdham, head of School of Nursing & Healthcare Leadership in the Faculty of Health Studies, who joined the university 11 years ago, said: “It’s in the nature of healthcare professionals to help. In responding to the crisis, it’s important that anyone who can help is able to, so the university is proud to support them.
“I’m really pleased we have had such a good response and we understand a lot of people won’t find it easy because they have caring responsibilities themselves but this is what nursing is about, it’s about helping and supporting patients. A lot of nurses who have already gone out into practice feel like they are giving back to the people who have mentored and supported them in their training and who are under immense pressure.”
In addition to 20 nursing, physiotherapy, midwifery, radiography and paramedic staff, the full cohort of Year 3 nursing, midwifery and paramedic students have taken up NHS roles early, with Year 2 students across some of the professions being trained up now to enter frontline services in the coming months.
Dr Anita Sargeant, head of Allied Health Professionals and Midwifery in the Faculty of Health Studies, described the deployment of midwifery and paramedic students as a “significant contribution to the workforce.”
She said: “Our third year paramedic students are already working with YAS and we have brought forward training for our Year 2 students to get them ready to enter YAS earlier to help support the Covid-19 response.
“It’s significant because they are working on the front line as emergency medical technicians and will be responding to all emergency calls, including Covid-19 situations.
“In addition, third year midwifery students will be working across our trusts to support midwives and women having babies, because babies don’t stop, even for Covid-19. Our physiotherapy, occupational therapy and radiography students will contribute in a number of ways over the coming months.”
The university will be sending 27 paramedic students currently on their ‘sandwich year’ with YAS and a further 31 undertaking ‘blue light’ driver training, who are preparing to enter their sandwich year early, with a further 12 students starting later this year.
University Vice Chancellor Professor Shirley Congdon, who is a member of the Bradford District COVID-19 Gold Group, coordinating the region’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, said: “We are working to support our local council, NHS and businesses through the current crisis period, offering our services to support the response at a national level.
“We have signed a memorandum of understanding that supports the relocation of employees across NHS trusts, clinical commissioning groups, local authority and general practice staff in hospitals, medical facilities, primary, community and social care settings, coordination centres and in people’s own homes.”
The University of Bradford has distributed its own stocks of PPE equipment to the NHS. To date, this has included coveralls, hooded bodysuits, gloves, safety glasses and overshoe covers. We have provided Bradford Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust with 95 litres of ethanol to clean ventilators.
“We are supporting our staff with professional qualifications to return to practice in the NHS, and to engage in volunteering and other work to support the NHS and Social Care during this time, adjusting their workload where there is no negative impact on students.
“We are supporting students to contribute to the NHS and Social care in paid employment, placements and volunteering.”