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Leading national nursing officer praises Chester students helping in the fight against coronavirus

The Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England – Hilary Garratt CBE – has praised final year students at the University of Chester who have opted to join the NHS on the frontline in the fight against the coronavirus.

The students are being trained at the simulation suite at the Riverside Campus, which is understood to be the only such facility in the North West to have been opened to assist in preparing nurses and other frontline health and social care staff at a time of exceptional demand due to coronavirus.

The final year student nurses have all voluntarily opted to work with the NHS in the fight against the pandemic, having answered the call for extra resources from the health service in this time of international crisis.

The student nurses are being given extra training and support by academics at the University in a series of sessions in small groups to ensure social distancing procedures are strictly followed at all times. The groups will also be training with a kit that will give them a sense of wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). This equipment is not of a suitable quality to be used within NHS services, to make sure that no resources are taken from where they are needed most – but the training kit will allow students to get a sense of providing care wearing PPE.

By opening these facilities to practice partners in the healthcare sector, the University aims to create a practice and knowledge exchange hub, so that best practice can be rapidly shared. It aims to make the facility available to partner organisations, including hospitals and community trusts, to up-skill staff in clinical techniques that will assist in supporting the NHS workforce during a time of unprecedented need.  Social care experts will also be working on projects to mitigate the impacts of isolation and community fragmentation caused by the coronavirus.

Academic staff from the University’s Faculty of Health and Social Care will be providing the training after working closely with local health colleagues to prioritise need.    

The simulation suite at Riverside provides a flexible learning space that can be adapted to reflect the individual learning needs of students. The environment includes simulated hospital wards and triage assessment areas.

Hilary Garratt CBE, who is also a Visiting Professor at the University, said: “I want to thank every single person who has put their hand up in the country’s time of need to join the frontline, and I am so proud to see Chester at the forefront of training and preparation for student nurses.

“These heroes will make a valuable difference as the NHS and social care ramps up to meet the biggest challenge in its history and provide care to the thousands of patients who will need it over the coming days, weeks and months, and it’s not too late for other students – and indeed former nurses and other colleagues – to lend a hand: your NHS still needs you.”

Associate Professor Julie Bailey-McHale, who is Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) at the University of Chester, said: “We are extremely proud of all the final year students who have volunteered to serve the NHS at this critical time. They are a real credit to the healthcare profession.

“We would also like to thank Creative Stitchers – a team of local seamstresses, led by Sue Morley and organised by Senior Lecturer, Dr Adam Keen, who have been sewing surgical gowns for us. These will enable the students to practice wearing PPE, which is a skill that we have been particularly asked to include in our training sessions.

“We are glad that Hilary Garratt is supporting the commitment and professionalism of our students and staff and their response to this crisis.”