A STUDENT nurse forced to work on the front line of the coronavirus crisis has raised concerns over lack of experience.

The Tynedale woman, due to start a placement at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, said she was being made to work 37-and-a-half hours a week unpaid in crisis circumstances.

“I only started nursing training six months ago and have been out on a hospital placement once,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s right that the Nursing and Midwifery Council or universities are prepared to send us into a medical war zone.

“We don’t have the knowledge or relevant clinical skills to tackle something as vicious as this.

“Student nurses are in the Cumberland Infirmary right now, and the nurses are far too busy with patients so they’re not getting their learning needs met as they should be.”

The student nurse, who is training at the University of Cumbria and wishes to remain anonymous, said nurses and doctors were being provided with protective equipment, with student nurses receiving it only if there was any spare.

According to NHS guidance, workers should be wearing personal protective equipment when dealing with a suspected coronavirus patient.

All staff should wear a surgical mask, gloves, apron and eye protection.

The student nurse, who is in her first year of training, said she was concerned she could easily contract coronavirus and pass it on to other patients in the hospital, or even her family.

There are currently 129 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Cumbria.

She said: “Carlisle’s hospital is riddled with coronavirus.

“Some of the student nurses are on the bank (temporary shifts rota) as health care assistants and they’ve said it’s everywhere in the hospital as they haven’t been able to accommodate specific wards for infected patients.

“I would risk spreading the virus on to vulnerable babies and their families. I am a student children’s nurse expected to do my placement in the community with health visitors.

“My main worry is that I potentially infect a high-risk or vulnerable individual. This isn’t the kind of worry or stress first-year student nurses should have to face.”

The student nurse was due to start a placement in May, but has been fast-tracked into the role to help with the hospital’s response effort.

“Usually we would have sessions in university to help prepare us for our placements, let alone this,” she added.

“We have all stressed that we do not feel at all comfortable in going out into clinical placements where we would be most vulnerable.

“We have been told to stay away from university but are expected to go into some of the most highly infectious settings. There is just no logic, we’re like guinea pigs.

“We work as hard as the nurses do, unpaid, exhausted and we’re being thrown into a global pandemic.”

On Wednesday, the University of Cumbria said it had removed all first-year nursing and midwifery students from clinical areas, and paused their clinical placements.