Rights at work: why we should value our practice educators

11 January 2021

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe on protecting this crucial profession.

We believe the role of practice educators must continue to be valued, not downgraded. This has become a priority that was reinforced by a practice teacher role motion passed by the CPHVA AGM in November after being proposed by the CPHVA Northern Ireland branch. We will actively campaign for practice educators.

You will be aware that Unite-CPHVA has expressed concerns following changes to the NMC’s standards for student supervision and assessment in relation to the future of the practice teacher role. In particular, we have seen employers in the North East of England and in Northern Ireland using the change from mentors and practice teachers to practice supervisors and practice assessors as an attempt to remove and/or down-band practice teacher roles. In Wales, sadly, this process has already taken place in the last couple of years in most health boards.

Unite-CPHVA will vigorously oppose all attempts to down-band or downgrade practice teacher roles and will do its utmost to protect those members delivering high-quality supervision and mentoring. If this is an initiative that is happening to you or any of your colleagues, please contact your local accredited representative (LAR) or your Unite-CPHVA district office, or contact us (see end of page). There is a right to be consulted should these changes be proposed, and with the correct advice, tactics and collective will of the workforce, such proposals can be withdrawn or amended substantially to ensure jobs are protected and no colleague is down-banded.

It is unrealistic to expect a hv or school nurse to dedicate the amount of time required to ensure student scphns are effectively prepared

Unite-CPHVA believes that the expectations placed on practice assessors are over and above the responsibilities contained within a generic NHS Agenda for Change Band 6 health visitor or school nurse (SN)job profile. Of course in Scotland all HVs are Band 7. Furthermore, it is unrealistic to expect a HV or SN, on top of their existing workload – and in the midst of increasing workloads due to the shrinking numbers of HVs and SNs, particularly in England – to dedicate the amount of time that would be required to ensure student specialist community public health nurses (SCPHNs) are effectively prepared for practice.

Unite-CPHVA believes that this needs to be taken into account in the forthcoming NMC SCPHN review consultation. Last autumn we published a comprehensive statement, and now we will be asking CPHVA members to write to the NMC to ensure that value of practice educators is recognised as part of the SCPHN review consultation. We will also ask members to write to their chief nursing officers to ask them to stand up for practice educators. In England, we aim to brief local councillors whose authorities commission and in some cases employ practice educators as part of their 0 to 19 public health nursing services. We also want you to tell us why you value practice educators. Please join us and look out for further information on valuing practice educators, so we can protect our colleagues and celebrate the profession which gives back so much to children and families in communities across the country.

For more information, contact your CPHVA LAR or Unite district or regional office. Email [email protected] to help build up a picture of what is happening with practice educators across the country. Information in this article was correct as of 14 December 2020.

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