FAQs for training officers

What guidance is there for employers conducting direct entry local STP interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Employers should refer to this guidance which explains the process for conducting direct entry local interviews for the Scientist Training Programme in the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 emergency.

Guidance for local interviews to be conducted by employers for the Scientist Training Programme 2020

How can trainees be redeployed within our Trust?

Trainees in many departments may well be unable to continue with their training plans, particularly in areas which are patient facing or are under significant workforce pressures. Most trainees will, however, have transferable skills that could be used for other areas – these may include tasks involving patient confidentiality, clinical data input, importance of accuracy and QC, which could prove useful for example in labs and specimen receptions. Training officers may feel it appropriate to make that offer to their local labs. They might not need help yet, but may do in the coming weeks and it would be helpful for them to know that other STPs are willing to redeploy. Although not traditionally part of their rotation structure and if considered safe,  trainees would gain skills from the experience too and it could help them to feel a valued part of the NHS during this time.

As the Train the Trainer session in June has been cancelled, will this be rescheduled?

Our aim is to re-start our Train the Trainer programme later in the year, however we cannot confirm any dates at this time. In the meantime, we are putting together more online resources to support training officers. These will be available on the website soon.

Are trainees expected to come into Trusts at this time?

As STP trainees are all employees, the decision as to where and how they are asked to work at present will rest upon the Employer.  Current Government advice is to work from home if possible unless you are a key worker – STP trainees are a varied group and it is not possible to be specific about which of these trainees are considered key workers – this will differ depending on year of training and possibly between specialties. HEE and the NSHCS are encouraging and supportive of all trainees to continue to contribute to services where they can, including supporting employers to redeploy trainees where it is safe to do so and where they can provide helpful support, or to work from home where risk assessment/workforce issues make this the best option. We advise you to discuss with your trainee as soon as possible as you are best placed to manage their individual circumstances. We are continually reviewing the situation and intend to provide regular updated guidance for our STP trainees and training officers in continuing to actively train where possible and to contribute to service where appropriate. We can only provide guidance within HEE and PHE policy and cannot override local employment policy or provide medical advice to trainees.

My trainee has been told by their doctor that they need to self- isolate for 12 weeks- can the Trust support this? 

We understand that trainees have concerns regarding their own health and well being and any self-isolation requirements. Trainees are employees of their trusts and so should discuss their individual circumstances with their training officer/line manager who will have a duty of care to support their needs during this time.  If trainees receive medical advice that they should be self isolating then this should be presented to the employer who should work within local employment policies to advise on the best approach for that individual. The School can only provide guidance within HEE, Government and PHE policy and cannot override local employment policy or provide medical advice to trainees. HEE is encouraging and is supportive of all trainees to continue to contribute to services where they can, including supporting employers to redeploy trainees where it is safe to do so and where they can provide helpful support, or to consider working from home (including working on competencies and self-directed learning) where risk assessment/workforce issues make this the best option. We are continually reviewing the situation and intend to provide regular updated guidance for our STP trainees in continuing to actively train where possible and to contribute to service where appropriate.  We are adding to our FAQ advice to training officers to consider trainee concerns and suggest that trainees should be supported to follow GPs advice, but it would be up to training officers and/or line managers to determine how to manage individual circumstances.

The 2020 live OSFAs have been cancelled - could you clarify whether by 'not postponed' this means that trainees will not be expected to take the live OSFAs in 2021?

Third year STP trainees will not be required to undertake a live OSFA in July 2020.

In place of the OSFA, trainees will be required to submit a written critical reflection on their clinical competence and readiness to practise, which outlines how their experience and learning to date demonstrate how they meet the standards set out in the Academy of Healthcare Science’s Good Scientific Practice.

Our current plan is that this piece of written work will be submitted by a point in mid-July. Trainees will be given advance notice of the precise requirements of the written assignment in May.

Trainees and their training officers will be provided with further and more detailed guidance about the alternative final assessment next week and beyond.

Our aim is to put in place a system that provides an opportunity for final year STP trainees to complete the STP programme at the usual time in a way that is fair and transparent. Our approach must ensure that Clinical Scientists joining the full HCPC register continue to be safe and fit to practice; without unduly adding to the pressures already faced by our Healthcare Scientist colleagues who will remain integral to STP assessment.