COVID-19: HSST trainee information

Information for HSST trainees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Latest statement

Statement updated on 19th January 2021

Options for HSST trainees during third national lockdown

As we have now entered the third national lockdown due to COVID we appreciate that your training may continue to be affected. The pandemic and the associated increased demand on the system has affected our senior colleagues greatly across the NHS and we would like to thank you all for your continued hard work and dedication to your patients.

We wish to highlight some of the options available to you at this time. The option to apply for a COVID-related interruption is still available via OneFile if you feel it is currently not possible to continue with your HSST training. Please note these COVID interruptions will apply to both your workplace and academic training. If alternatively you only wish to pause an element of the academic programme without altering your completion date, such as deferring a module, you are able to do so by contacting your Programme Administrator at the University.

In addition, it is very important to consider your own health during this time. As such the School has links to a variety of support and resources available to you.

We have also updated the FAQs below to reflect the changing situation.

FAQs for HSST trainees

Will the NSHCS be open to further interruptions to training if our departments become overwhelmed with future Covid-19 difficulties?

Yes, the Covid Interruption form on OneFile can be submitted more than once to allow for this. If you are making a further request, please indicate on the form that you already hold an improved interruption to assist with linking these requests.

Can we apply for further extensions if we didn't ask for 6 months and find that COVID delays us even more further down the line?

Yes, the COVID Interruption form on OneFile can be submitted more than once to allow for this. If you are making a further request, please indicate on the form that you already hold an improved interruption to assist with linking these requests.

If we have a non-covid related training difficulties, who do we contact for help and advice?

Please email regarding any training difficulties and this will be forwarded to the relevant team

How will the cancellation of professional events and conferences affect training plans and the meeting of Standards of Proficiency for HSST?

Training plans are designed to be flexible and this will especially be the case during the pandemic. The AHCS advises that their ‘standards are designed to be flexible and to provide a framework for decision making in a wide range of situations’.

Please refer to AHCS site for further updates on Standards of Proficiency

How will the ARP process be changed to reflect the impact of the pandemic?

The ARP is a supportive process which will take into account the impact of COVID on training and the ability to meeting Standards of Proficiency. Some Standards of Proficiencies may be met naturally by the additional or different work being carried out at this time, so please review your training plan to identify these alternatives.  The outcomes from ARP process will reflect the impact of the pandemic.

Can I still apply to sit the IAPS assessment if I am delayed with submitting my thesis due to COVID-19?

Yes, we will be accepting applications to IAPS prior to thesis submission under exceptional arrangements due to the impact of the COVID-19. The IAPS assessments for 2021 will run w/c 10th May and w/c 6th December.

In order to apply for an IAPS sitting you will need to have all Standards of Proficiency signed off and a Showcase produced 3 months prior to the assessment. Therefore, to sit the May 2021 IAPS you will need to submit your application and showcase by 10th February 2021.

Can we still take the IAPS up to one year after our new extended deadline?

There is a 12 month unfunded window post your completion date of HSST to submit all of your completion evidence, including academic certificates and evidence of having completed your professional assessments. If it is likely that due to COVID-19 you will not be able to complete all of the elements of HSST within this timeframe, please consider applying for an interruption to your programme to allow for this.

What is the situation with RCPath Examinations?

The Royal College of Pathologists continue to update their website with any changes to examination dates for 2021. Please visit their website for the latest information.

What is the situation with Section A modules?

All Section A modules are being run remotely. Please refer to Blackboard VLE for updates on workshops and assessment deadlines.

Covid has resulted in research patients not returning to hospital for follow up which means I have limited follow up data for my thesis. How well received will a thesis write up be if it has only limited data for interpretation?

It is likely that many projects will be changed due to the impact of COVID, which is understood by the Universities and NSHCS. The project aims and objectives can be changed, although the project and thesis will still need to meet the Level 8 academic requirements for the University. It is important to discuss any changes with your Academic Supervisor and Programme Director at the University to determine this.

At what point will we hear from the university about re-starting our research project?

The decision about restarting your research project is based on your own availability, and your department and trusts capacity to support research at this time. If you are able to continue with your research, you should inform your Academic Supervisor and Programme Director at the University

Do you have an update on the HRA position on non-covid research projects for both HSST and STP?

The NSHCS met with the HRA on 05/06/2020 to clarify the situation with non-Covid related projects. It was confirmed that doctoral level projects are exempt from the current pause in applications and therefore HSST research projects are eligible for HRA approval. It is important to discuss with your Trust R&D team regarding their current capacity to support non-covid related projects.

I was planning on using my PhD for the written component as I am doing the EIP rather than the full C2 project. However, it says in the guidelines it will only be accepted if in a relevant subject and within a timely manner (quoted as within 10 years) - due to cancelled FRCPath exams - will there be any leniency in this now in terms of the timely manner part?

The NSHCS states that previous PhDs need to be relevant and timely (usually within 10 years), however we will endeavour to be flexible. Please note, you are able to apply for a C2 exemption from the school as soon as you start the HSST programme. However, Life Science HSSTs will also need to contact the RCPath to confirm if your PhD will be acceptable as the Part 2 written component for your specialism.

Can you tell us more about the AHCS HSS register?

Following completion of the HSST programme and receipt of the HSST certificate, individuals are eligible to join the AHCS HSSR Register. Once on the register you will be able to use the title ‘Fellow of the Academy for Healthcare Science’ for the period that you are on the register. Please visit the Academy for Healthcare Science website for more information.