Over this last year we have seen unprecedented times that have affected you all in many ways. We recognise that this has required you to innovate and work hard to get things done and meet the needs of your local population. We are now reflecting and beginning to understand the learning from the innovation and consequences of Covid-19 whilst also uncertain about what is ahead.
There has been an impact on the non-medical pre-registration student placements. Student placements were suspended in March and only a small number of students were able to continue via the HEE Student Employment Contract. This has led to changes to curricula as missed placement blocks are needed. Supernumerary placements have now recommenced, and there is an increase in demand for placements which will continue for the next 18 months. Locally the university and HEE have asked for capacity adjustments so that we could effectively plan placements for 2020-2021.
Whilst clinical services understandably take priority, we have seen a sharp decrease in available placement capacity. This has been for varying reasons; from lack of space due to social distancing requirements, staff shortages, changes to service provision. We urgently need to rebuild capacity across Kent and Medway PCNs so that we can ensure the demand for placements can be met, and we continue to expose students to Primary Care. This offers an experience in Primary Care, without which, they are less likely consider future employment opportunities within the sector.
We are asking all PCNs to support student placements. There are various ways you can support practice learning, from offering substantive placements, to providing an alternative experience to a student placed in a practice within your PCN. We can support you to link in with other services across your locality such as care homes, independent or voluntary service providers. Not only does this provide a meaningful experience for the students, but it helps to manage the time they spend within individual practices. Innovative changes to service provision e.g. virtual consultations, will enable students to engage in practice in a new and sustainable way, helping them to understand these new ways of working.
Please do let us know if your team are interested in practice learning, and we can put you in touch with your Community Education Facilitation (CEF) Lead, Senior Lecturer in Practice Learning at Canterbury Christ Church University or the Link Lecturer at University of Greenwich to learn more about how we implement this in your areas.
We know that many of you have continued to accept students and thank you for you continued support during the challenging months you have faced.
For Further details please contact your local Primary Care Workforce Lead through the Training Hub
East Kent: Eastkent.email@example.com
North Kent: Northkent.firstname.lastname@example.org
West Kent: email@example.com