Clinical placements for healthcare students

Clinical placements are a core part of the specialist training for your qualification. But going on placement can be a stressful and challenging time.

We’ve surveyed our student members and know that:

  • too many experience bullying or harassment during their placements
  • a great number are not given enough advanced notice of their placement
  • individual circumstances are often not taken into account when placements are allocated.

UNISON is the largest union in the NHS and represents tens of thousands of health students. We want to make sure all students have the best possible placements, receive reasonable adjustments for your circumstances, and know how to access support and help when you need it.

Please make use of the resources provided below.

Seeking support while on your placement

As a healthcare student you are on placement with an organisation to learn and your supernumerary status should be protected.

While it’s expected you will take part in supervised, hands on clinical care as part of your learning, you should not be a substitute for directly employed staff.

You should also be treated with respect and dignity at all times. Bullying is not acceptable anywhere in the health service but health care students can be particularly vulnerable.

You can raise concerns directly with your mentor in the clinical area and escalate any concerns to a superior or a tutor from your course if you are not satisfied.

But as a UNISON member you can always seek advice and support from a UNISON steward. We have branches and representation in every NHS workplace so there is always someone to talk to.

This can be informal and doesn’t need to go any further if you don’t want it to. If they are unable to help directly, a steward can always help sign post you to other forms of support.

Find your UNISON branch

‘Best practice pledge’

We want all employers and organisations to commit to providing high standards of support and supervision during clinical placements.

We’re asking employers to sign a ‘best practice pledge’ promising they will do this. Talk to your branch rep about the pledge to find out who has signed up.

Accessing expenses and financial support

We also know that managing your finances during your studies is extremely challenging.

We continue to campaign against the removal of the NHS maintenance grants and the imposition of tuition fees on health students in England and are demanding there be full, non-repayable, living bursaries provided to all health students across the UK.

There is still some financial support available to health students to help them meet the additional costs of travelling to and from placements and maybe having to stay in temporary accommodation.

This includes an ‘exceptional support fund’ for students experiencing financial hardship and a child dependent’s allowance.

We want to make sure as many students as possible are aware of this support and can access it as needed.