Nurchat poll reveals a third of student nurses worry about raising concerns
As the UK’s leading independent provider of healthcare staff we are always promoting new and innovative ways to raise discussion and debate and this month’s Nurchat was no different. We asked student nurses if they felt comfortable raising concerns in practice.
It follows years of debate in the aftermath of the Francis report which highlighted that raising concerns and reporting processes were disjointed, and a consistent, rigorous process was required to improve standards.
We asked our #Nurchat users: As a student nurse, do you feel you would be fully supported if you raised a concern while on placement?
The response was divided with 36 per cent of participants commenting that they don’t feel fully supported to raise a concern, 31 per cent said they do and 36 per cent somewhat.
It has raised an important issue about support in practice for student nurses who, as the eyes and ears in the healthcare community, are uniquely placed to identify and raise concerns.
As learners and future registered nurses, they have the benefit of working across varying departments, moving from ward to ward, clinic to clinic and sometimes hospital to hospital. Whilst accruing 2,300 practice hours required for their Nursing and Midwife Council registration (NMC), student nurses gain a huge range of diverse experience but often feel if they raise issues their placements will not be signed off.
In 2015 the ‘Freedom to Speak’ paper addressed some of these issues following on from the Frances report, it stated:
“Whilst students are on placement they are exposed daily to real situations where they may witness incidents concerning public and patient safety. They are therefore in a particularly good position to spot things that might be going wrong. Most will bring a new perspective and an independent viewpoint when they enter clinical environments. They are a fresh pair of eyes, keen to learn and provide constructive challenge based on current learning and research” (8.2.2)
The report went on further to state that;
“There is evidence that support and protection for students and trainees generally is patchy and that they can fall between health education institutions, the regulators and providers of healthcare” (8.2.16)
This was supported by our Nurchat, with participants commenting that their experience differs in different institutions. They said:
“We have a clear pathway in our placement documents with who to report to, it is the aftermath that is scary.”
“Students as future nurses should not fear repercussions. Any concerns just like bad practice should be reported.”
Another added: “Encouraging student nurses to tell lecturers and mentors if they are having difficulties is essential. It is really important to keep them informed.”
You can read the full chat here
Donna Mullikin, Newcross Complex Care Lead Nurse and Nurchat host said: " The most recent discussion was a very valuable and thought provoking #Nurchat that provided lots of information and allowed student nurses, nurses and academic leads to share their knowledge and experiences.
"Sadly many students expressed concerns about raising issues and highlighted that there is still a lack of support available to them. What is great to see and reassuring is after the chat participants were able to identify how they would change their practice to ensure best practice is carried out and maintained throughout their learning and careers.
"Overall participants felt there needs to be consistency and clearly identified pathways, with more support and encouragement for open and honest communication across the board. That is the goal across health and is something we can all aspire to achieve."
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Francis: R. (2015) Freedom to Speak Up:. Available from http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20150218150343/http://freedomtospeakup.org.uk/the-report/
NMC (2015) Raising concerns: guidance for nurses and midwives. Available from:
RCN (2015) Raising Concerns: a guide for RCN members. Available from: