Kingston healthcare students fear they will struggle to find jobs after St George’s University Hospitals Trust was placed into special measures.
The trust is one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK, and was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) because services had declined in the past two years.
Jade Robinson, an adult nursing Kingston graduate who left last year, said: “I just feel that the staff don’t care much there. It’s disgusting, I’m so glad that I completed my training at a different hospital. If I was still at St. George’s now I would have demanded a change to a different hospital.”
Kingston University offers a variety of medical degree courses linked with St George’s and prides itself on the working relationship they have established.
Healthcare students at the University train in both St George’s and Kingston Hospital, and part of their degrees are certified by the trust.
While the poor rating will not currently affect students and placements, some students have reported that select wards are so concerned with rectifying issues that they are unwilling to have students on for training.
Students also said that they were worried training within the trust would affect their employability in the future.
Robinson said: “I do feel that it will affect people’s CVs. Maybe not too dramatically but in my opinion it doesn’t look great when you have been trained by a hospital who have been placed in special measures and who have not been maintaining the basic nursing needs, such as dignity in care.”
Insufficient safety checks, buildings not fit for purpose and staff failing to follow correct procedure were some of the other problems and issues raised by the CQC.
The trust received the lowest possible score for being safe and well-led, and required improvement for being effective and responsive.
The trust was rated good for caring but this made no impact on the result of the report.
A spokesman for the University said: “No staff or students in the faculty of Health, Social Care and Education are affected by the Care Quality Commission’s announcement.
“All the faculty’s teaching and research activity, provided jointly by Kingston University and St George’s University of London, is continuing as usual.”
Some healthcare students are less concerned by the news, as they do not carry out training within the NHS trust.
Andy Thompson, a social work student in his final year at Kingston, said: “There is talk of me being picked up full time on my current placement, and I believe that’s usually the case regardless of endorsement, my performance on placement is the only thing affecting my potential employment.
“In all honesty St George’s has been little more than a header on letters, we’ve never had lectures there or lecturers from there, I assume they are just a source of finance.”
Robinson did her first year of placement in St George’s hospital and the following two years within Kingston, and she could not be more grateful.
“If I completed the full time at St. George’s I would be very, very worried for the implications on getting a job now.
“I came across many people who didn’t really have their heart in it anymore,” she said of her colleagues during the placement.
Some students are turning down graduate jobs at the hospital over fears it would look bad on their CV if they worked there, especially if conditions do not improve in the near future.
Robinson did not notice any episodes of bad care during her time at the St George’s placement, but was admitted to the hospital last year for jaw joint replacement surgery.
The graduate explains that her surgery team could not have been more caring, but the nurses on her ward turned the surgery in the “worst experience of her life.”
She was prescribed a potent antibiotic intended to be administered over a 15 minute period, but the nurse caring for Robinson injected her with the high dosage in just 10 seconds causing her extreme nausea.
She said: “I told her I felt sick and she laughed and told me to deal with it. I projectile vomited all over myself. The nurse tutted and said she doesn’t have time to deal with this right now and walked away.
“I assumed that she was going to come back with clean bedding and things but she didn’t. After about 15-20 mins she still wasn’t back.”
Robinson attempted to call her back, but the nurse turned Robinson’s call bell off and told the student she would have to wait for an hour until the nurse’s medication round was complete.
“The lady in the bed opposite me was going mad at the nurse. The patient got out of bed, found clean linen and helped me change. The nurse returned and clapped very sarcastically and said “oh so you can get out of bed then” and walked away,” said Robinson.
She was so disgusted at her treatment she demanded to be discharged after 48 hours and had home visits from her surgeon.
Her experience was not a one off either, as her younger brother had to wait for hours to have emergency eye surgery after being caught in a fight.
The wait could have caused him to go blind, but Robinson tracked down her jaw surgeon who carried out the operation himself.
The nurse’s first-hand experience with the hospital has caused her concern over the relationship students will have with the hospital in the future.
She added: “I can’t see the relationship between the University and St. George’s breaking down too much as they both need each other, however the relationship between the students, University and St George’s will be damaged, I feel.”
A spokesperson for St George’s university of London said: “We share a site with St George’s Hospital, which is part of the St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and work hard together to train our healthcare students. We will continue to do so to the highest standards.
However the University is run separately from the Trust and governed independently. The scope of the CQC’s inspection was clinical service delivery by the Trust and not the quality of its support of education or research.
The University’s teaching and research are continuing as normal and the Trust has signalled that it is fully committed to our academic agenda. Students should be reassured that the quality of their education remains our top priority.”