Full story at The Guardian 14 January 2018
Medical students are being urged to help relieve the NHS winter crisis because hospitals are so short-staffed they are struggling to cope with the surge in patients, the Guardian can reveal.
Despite their lack of experience, undergraduates are being asked to volunteer in A&E units and on wards reeling under the weight of extra demand caused by the cold weather, an outbreak of flu and people suffering serious breathing problems.
They have been told to expect to fit cannulas – the tubes inserted so patients can receive medication – and take blood, work usually done by nurses or qualified doctors.
The British Medical Association said that asking students who had not qualified in medicine to assist with, in some cases, severely ill patients was “a desperate measure” that could put patients at risk and exploit undergraduates who agreed to help.
The disclosure led to warnings that hospitals could face legal difficulties if students made mistakes and concern that their presence on wards could disguise the depth of NHS understaffing.