NHS 'fails to fail' incapable student nurses

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Incompetent student nurses are being allowed to qualify because hospital examiners are too reluctant to fail them, an industry report warned yesterday.

Incompetent student nurses are being allowed to qualify because hospital examiners are too reluctant to fail them, an industry report warned yesterday.

The Nursing And Midwifery Council, which regulates the profession, strongly criticised senior nurse mentors who assess trainees on the wards for passing sub-standard students as fit to practice.

Patients may be put at risk because mentors are "failing to fail" students who, in some cases, have repeatedly had concerns raised about their ability to perform clinical tasks, the report said.

Nurse mentors are senior staff on wards who are supposed to assess students on their clinical performance during placements and report back to lecturers.

Overworked senior staff have resorted to a "point and sign" culture, where they will pass a student on various assessments without fully checking they can perform the task.

Andy McGovern, a mentor at Newham General Hospital in east London, said he knew of cases where students who were clinically incompetent had been passed as fit to practice and allowed on to the wards as a fully-fledged nurse. "Sometimes mentors just cannot face failing students because they are scared of the reaction," he said.

The report found that some mentors were responsible for up to 14 students at a time.

Shirley Bach, chair of the RCN education forum, said: "It is vital that mentors must focus on providing good quality clinical assessments to protect patients. However, this is compromised by the high number of students needed to meet the NHS workforce targets which are placing greater pressure on mentors."

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