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22.05.12

Work experience participants to deliver patient care

A trust is to extend its work experience programme, with unemployed participants helping to deliver patient care.

Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust is extending the programme to all three of its hospitals, following a pilot where six unemployed people undertook unpaid work experience for eight weeks.

Before starting work, all participants were CRB-checked and received two weeks of training, before carrying out tasks involving “general tidying, welcoming visitors, serving drinks to patients, running errands, reading to patients and assisting with feeding patients”.

Unions have raised concerns over the move, due to the direct role participants would have in delivering patient care, despite initially consenting to the scheme.

A trust statement read: “We are situated in a deprived area with high unemployment and we think it is important to help get people back into work. The project gave participants the opportunity to gain confidence, training and experience, under supervision.

“The pilot is now complete and, after further consultation with trade unions and managers, we are aiming to run similar programmes across our three hospitals: City hospital in Birmingham, Sandwell hospital and Rowley Regis hospital.”

But a Unison spokesperson described the move as “a worrying glimpse of the future”, and stated that helping patients to eat and drink were skilled aspects of patient care and required people with the “right experience”. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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