The letter below (issued 28th January and also attached as a PDF) invites all students on any healthcare programmes to consider working up to 15 hours a week as NHS Bank staff. This process is being managed by the NHS Boards and not by the University.

The FAQs attached to the letter  (also replicated below) give guidance on the process you can follow to be registered on the board. Sadly there are no specific details of the ‘local contact’ as outlined in the first FAQ. When we have the full list of contacts we will circulate this however in the meantime please review the HR information, in the Board you might consider working for, to seek clarity.

Your programme lead, placement co-ordinator or the School Office at QMU will not have the information on ‘local board contacts’, at this time.

If you decide to join the bank staff rota you will be contributing to support the NHS workforce during the current pandemic, however I appreciate fully that this will not be the right way forward for everyone. Please remember that working should not interfere with your ongoing studies.

Best wishes and keep safe

Professor Fiona Coutts PhD MCSP
Dean, School of Health Sciences,
Queen Margaret University,
EH21 6UU

Also on this page, you will find FAQs from the University, supplementary to those included in the letter from the Scottish Government. You will also find associated guidance issued by the University on 22 January.

Student Deployment Letter

To all pre-registration nursing, midwifery, allied health professional, medical, dental, healthcare science and dental therapy students, and HNC Care, Healthcare Practice and Occupational Therapy students.

27 January 2021

Dear Student,

In response to the increasing pressures on the NHS and social care due to the Covid-19 pandemic during winter, we are writing to all healthcare students studying at university and college, to highlight an opportunity for you to apply to join the Bank of healthcare workers at your local NHS Board. We are highlighting this opportunity while wanting to continue to reassure you that we are very keen to support and protect your learning experiences and environment, and that your course, and your personal health and wellbeing are top priorities.

We know that many of you already work on the Bank, especially nursing and midwifery students, but for those of you who have not already done so, registering with the Bank may provide a variety of paid opportunities to support the NHS at this critical juncture. It does not provide a guarantee of work, but allows NHS Boards to offer you employment as and/or when the need arises in your local area. Once you are registered with the Bank some Boards may also offer you a part time fixed term contract at a maximum of 15 hours per week. The opportunities which are available will vary between Boards, depending on their current and future requirements.

You should only consider taking up this option if you feel you are able to work in addition to completing your studies. It is important that this opportunity does not impact detrimentally upon your course, or on your other personal circumstances. Your ability to take this up may also depend on varying demands of your course, and you should consider carefully what those are, and likely to be, before pursing this opportunity.

Please understand that this employment opportunity is completely optional. It is not part of the requirements of your studies and cannot be counted towards any practice hours that you are required to undertake for completion of your qualification. As a student you will be expected to continue to complete your university or college course, including attending clinical placements and other practice based learning opportunities.

With that in mind, it is your responsibility to ensure that any employment you decide to undertake:

    • does not affect your studies, ensuring your progress on the course towards graduation;
    • is aligned to the employment guidance of your University/College course (there may be a maximum number of hours you can work); and
    • should not be in an area (for example ward or clinic) in which you are currently undertaking a placement.

Be assured that when you are in the health service, whether on a student placement, or working on the Bank, you will have access to the same resources as staff, including PPE and access to vaccinations and testing. You will be advised of the Board’s phone line or booking link to book yourself an appointment at staff vaccination clinics, if this is not arranged through your supervisor.

We know that some of you will be disappointed not to be embarking on ‘paid placements’ for the remainder of your studies. This is because we want you to continue on your programmes as normally as possible so that you become the health professionals that Scotland will need for the future. One of our top priorities is for you to be able to either graduate, or continue on, your degree programme. Therefore, protecting your learning experience and your status as ‘learners’ is as important to us and the future of the NHS, as it is for you.

If you have any concerns about potentially working in healthcare frontline services, please contact your university personal tutor, who can discuss these with you, and direct you to appropriate supports. This includes your mental or physical health, or that of others around you.

Since the beginning of the pandemic healthcare students in Scotland have made invaluable contributions at an unprecedented time of need. Thank you all, whatever your role, for your extraordinary hard work, dedication, skills and commitment and for your continued efforts in the weeks and months ahead.

Stephen Lea-Ross
Deputy Director of Health Workforce, Leadership & Service Reform

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Attached to the Letter from Stephen Lea-Ross 

1. How do I find out more?

This is an optional opportunity for those who are able to take it up. You can find out details of the application process through your university or college, who will be able to provide you with local contact details.

2. I am a first year student can I apply?

If you have had your criminal records check completed (usually this would be your PVG – or any additional checks that your University/College has required if you have also lived outside Scotland) and your health checks are also complete then you can apply. If you have not yet been on a clinical placement you may also have mandatory training to complete. You will be informed of what is required by the Bank when applying. This may vary depending on your year of study, programme and Health Board.

3. Can I apply to more than one Board?

You should only apply to the Board in the area of your current address, or the Board that you anticipate you will spend the majority of the next three months in, in order to minimise travel required.

4. I have placements this semester can I still apply?

Yes, the Bank contracts are designed to be flexible for both parties which means you may be asked to work some weeks more than others or not at all. However you must remember this is a paid employment opportunity; extra hours worked are over and above placement or academic time, and do not count towards your qualification. This will be additional to your course hours, up to a maximum of 15 hours per week (or the hours prescribed as part of your University’s employment guidance). Students should ensure they commit to what they are able to undertake without affecting progression on their course. That will be different for each student, and for each programme, and will vary over time.

5. Can I work in an area where I am on placement?

You cannot work in an area (for example ward or clinic) where you are currently on placement as it is important that your student placement and employment are kept separate. Accordingly, if you already know you are going to be placed, or have a resit in a Board clinical area in the next 3 months, you should state this when any offer is made. If you are offered hours in an area where you have previously been on placement, there is no reason you cannot return there if you are happy to do this.

6. What do the roles involve?

These are flexible roles and there are a variety of opportunities within each Board. You may be employed in acute, mental health and community settings providing you are appropriately line managed and supervised. You should be clear that whatever role you undertake is separate from your role as a student on placement and should be treated as such at all times. The role will not necessarily be directly related to your programme of study. You should not undertake duties outwith the role profile to which you have been recruited, and should not be expected to undertake duties you are not competent to undertake.

7. How much will I be paid?

These positions are not the same as last year, and the pay will be appropriate for the work opportunities available in the board, and also consider if you have any prior work experience. Boards will offer contracts at bands 2, 3 or 4 in line with the job description of the position. The contracts will be around a maximum of 15 hours per week, but precise arrangements will vary.

8. Should I let my University know that I am applying to go onto the Bank?

Your University/College will know that this is an option, but you should inform your personal tutor if you plan to apply. They can help you to consider the balance between study and work, in your particular circumstances. However, there is no requirement to do this.

9. Am I covered under the NHS Scotland Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme?

University students undertaking clinical placements in NHS Scotland are automatically covered under a temporary COVID-19 linked death in service cover called the NHS Scotland Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme. This cover also extends to college students working towards a HNC in Care and Administrative Practice, HNC in Healthcare Practice, and HNC in Occupational Therapy Support who undertake placements in health and social care settings. A one off payment of £60,000 will be made to the next of kin of any student who dies where COVID-19 is a documented factor, while undertaking NHS clinical placements.

Additional FAQs (from the University)


  1. Will paid placements be introduced again?

Paid placements were introduced to Nursing students during the firt COVID lockdown, however the second lockdown is very different and the main intention is to help you complete your studies and graduate on time.  The Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland wrote to all Nursing and Midwifery students to indicate that paid placement would not be re-introduced in Scotland, at the moment.  Employment opportunities are available through the NHS Bank and a letter was distributed to all healthcare students on Thursday 28th January detailing these opportunities.

  1. How do I take up the employment opportunity for students on a healthcare programme?

Please review the letter emailed to every student from the Deputy Director of Health Workforce in Scottish Government on Thursday 28th January, which gives details of how to find work in the NHS.  This is an optional opportunity for those who are able to take it up and the Appendix to the letter provides a list of details for ‘local contact’ in most Health Boards to do so. If no name is provided, please review the HR section of the Website of the NHS Board, you would wish to work in.

  1. Should I let my University know that I am applying to go onto the Bank?

You should inform your programme leader or personal tutor if you plan to apply. They can help you to consider the balance between study and work, in your particular circumstances. However, there is no requirement to do this.

  1. Will I be tested for COVID-19 when I go on placement?

Healthcare students are classed as key workers and are treated in the same way as healthcare staff.  Therefore, there is not a requirement for you to be tested prior to commencing practice learning experiences. When on practice learning experiences you have the same opportunities for testing as permanently employed NHS healthcare staff. Currently asymptomatic testing is not available for all healthcare staff. 

Since July, students on placement in oncology, elderly care and mental health wards with stays over three months, and students on placement in care homes, have been offered testing on a weekly basis - the same as the staff within these areas. Students are also offered testing when asymptomatic as part of incident or outbreak investigations at ward level when unexpected cases are identified.

  1. Will I be vaccinated when I go on placement?

The letter emailed to you in December 2020 from the Chief Nursing Officer and the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer indicates that students will be vaccinated as the vaccine programme rolls out. This programme is now well underway and all students will be treated like staff when on placement and will be able to get vaccinated in practice. This was supported by a more specific guidance note circulated to all student on  22nd Jan 2021 (which appears on this web page).

Students who are not going into practice experience now will be required to wait until they go on placement to be vaccinated.

  1. Can I claim travel or accommodation expenses for my placement?

If you are a Scottish domiciled student on an undergraduate health care programme in Scotland, you can claim expenses for travel and/ or accommodation outside of the local area to you University, through SAAS.  No overseas travel or accommodation will be paid, and travel outside of Scotland has to be agreed by your programme lead before accepting the placement . Please follow the guidance on the SAAS website.  

  1. Am I covered under the NHS Scotland Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme?

University students undertaking clinical placements in NHS Scotland are automatically covered under a temporary COVID-19 linked death in service cover called the NHS Scotland Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme. A one off payment of £60,000 will be made to the next of kin of any student who dies where COVID-19 is a documented factor, while undertaking NHS clinical placements.

Guidance on Vaccination for COVID-19 For use for Health and Social Care Students on Placements (issued by the University)

The Scottish Government position on vaccinating these groups is:  These groups of staff and students will be considered as JCVI cohort 2, alongside all other patient facing staff 

There is to be no differentiation between bank, agency, locum staff, health and social care students on placement to those on permanent contracts. This means that students on Clinical Placement within the NHS and associated care homes will be considered under the same category as staff.This also means that if you choose to be employed as agency and bank staff throughout your programme of study, you will be treated the same as staff.

If you choose to become contracted bank or agency staff, please ensure you have communicated with your manager to ensure you know how to book in for a vaccine appointment via phone or internet systems.

Students on placement from universities or colleges into direct patient facing roles across the Health and Social Care environment will be provided with the booking details ahead of their placements.

NHS Lothian information was circulated to all Health Sciences students in January 2021, and should be accessed only by students with confirmed placements in NHS Lothian. Students on placements in other areas will be contacted directly, or should contact their Placement Co-ordinator for details of how to access vaccinations in other areas.

For students who receive 1st dose in one health board are and then on placement in another board area by the time their 2nd dose is due – there is a role for the new board to vaccinate, but also a role for the individual themselves to contact the new board staff vaccine to say they are approaching 12th week in advance. This should be done via your Practice Educator in the first instance.

Should you have any enquiries, these should be directed to in the first instance, where the team will do their best to assist you.

Jenny Ansett – School Manager: Health Sciences

22 January 2021

(From Scottish Government statement of 19 January 2021)