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Demand for answers over withdrawal of student nurses from Boston hospital

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: August 17, 2011

Boston Pilgrim Hospital.

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SECRECY continues to surround why 100 student nurses were pulled from a county hospital as talks take place behind closed doors.

Eighty-two nursing and midwifery students at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston were suddenly withdrawn from their course at the end of July following "serious concerns" raised by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

But more than two weeks on, reasons for uprooting the students have not yet been made public and the NMC says it will "not be making any further statements".

Now, health leaders in Lincolnshire are calling for more transparency from the organisation.

Councillor Christine Talbot, chairman of the health scrutiny committee for Lincolnshire, said: "I believe there is public concern about why the students were removed from Boston Pilgrim Hospital, and I'd expect that it would be in the public interest for the NMC to disclose this information.

"Because of the ongoing inspections and reports into the hospital, there could be genuine reasons why the NMC feel they can't do this. However, any health 'watchdog' such as the NMC is ultimately accountable to the public."

Clare White, spokesman for United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, which runs the hospital, said it had received a letter, but added: "The trust is seeking further clarification from the NMC to explain the reasons for their actions."

The NMC confirmed on July 29 it had asked the University of Lincoln, The University of Nottingham and The Open University to withdraw the nursing and midwifery students from the hospital after concerns were raised.

At the time, the council said it was working with the universities to "review the suitability of the learning environment at Pilgrim Hospital", adding it was supporting the students affected.

A spokesman from the MNC yesterday told the Echo: "The meeting with the universities today is one of a series of meetings that have been ongoing since the nurses were removed.

"We will not be giving any other statement on this issue other than what we have already said."

It was then suggested by public workers' union Unison that the hospital should close because it is "unsafe for patients".

The claims followed the removal of the nurses as well as a critical report in June when the Care Quality Commission found the hospital to be failing in 12 out of 16 categories.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley rebuffed the claims, saying he had "every confidence" the issues at Boston Pilgrim Hospital would be addressed.

Emma Thorne, spokesman for the University of Nottingham, said all final year students had been given placements elsewhere, with the next group of final year students due to start at Boston Pilgrim Hospital in September being given places at Lincoln County Hospital.

She said: "Alternative placements have been found for this group at Lincoln County Hospital and these will be used if the situation at the Pilgrim Hospital does not change in the next month.

"There is a possibility that some may go further afield across the East Midlands, but this will only be in response to a request from the student.

"We are not aware that the NMC has set any timescale for these issues to be resolved.

"If there is a quick resolution, it may be that we are able to switch some placements back to Pilgrim Hospital.

"There are no deadlines and we will continue to work with the NMC in response to the concerns that have been raised."

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