Two student nurses studying in Aylesbury formed part of the elite national panel which assessed 14 hospital trusts highlighted by the NHS to have high death rates.
Elizabeth (Libby) McKerrow and Sarah Weight were two of just a handful of students who were selected to be a part of the Keogh Mortality Review, which was released yesterday.
The University of Bedfordshire undergraduates, who study at the Aylesbury-campus in Oxford House, Oxford Road, joined experienced clinicians, patients, managers and regulators to form the Rapid Response Review team, walking around the wards, interviewing patients, trainees, staff and the senior executives, to then discuss their findings in a panel.
Third-year student Sarah, who reviewed three trusts – Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, North Cumbria University Hospitals and Tameside Hospital – said the experience has done wonders for her development, confidence and potential career.
“It was breathtaking to be part of such an experienced board, and for, when you speak, for them to value your interpretation of how you saw things.
“I didn’t realise how much input I would have.
“I felt myself growing in not only confidence, but as a nurse too.
“Since the review I’ve had fantastic feedback from some very senior members of the NHS, which has opened up so many windows,” the 24-year-old Dunstable resident said.
Sarah, who wanted to become a nurse after she looked after her partner’s terminally ill father, added during the review her focus was always on getting the best for the patient from her perspective as a student.
“My main thoughts throughout the process were, ‘what can I bring to this review as a student nurse?’, so while walking around I was always thinking about my practice as a student.
“I focused on looking at the care and compassion shown by the nurses and all of the staff at high levels – as well as the end goal, making sure the patients’ needs were met.”
Second-year student and mum-of-three Libby reviewed Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The former medic in the Territorial Army, who joined the University to further expand what she had learnt and to work as a nurse, added she had a similar process.
“We met many of the student nurses from the local Uuiversities on placement at Basildon.
“I was really interested to hear of their experiences as a student nurse and then compare it to the standards we have here in Bedfordshire.
“Being at this university, it is made clear to us that nursing is not just a job, you have to have the right mindset and you have to be the right type of caring person to make sure the patients have exactly what they need.
“Feeding back what I found to such an informative panel was inspirational and empowering,” said the 46-year-old from Tring.
Gina Elworthy, senior lecturer in adult nursing, nominated the women to be part of the review process and said she was delighted with how the girls had got on.
“The University of Bedfordshire aims to support and develop our student nurses so that they are able to engage within many different forums,” she said.
“The Keogh reviews have offered them a wonderful opportunity to expand their experience and contribute to an essential area of healthcare.
“It is really gratifying to see how much they were able to contribute and how such contribution was valued.
“They are a credit to our University and the staff that have helped support them.”