Statement updated on 14th May 2020

At the NSHCS we are aware that all trainees have been affected differently by the impact of COVID-19 and we are reaching out to you help us understand how we can support you during this time.

We are asking all trainees to please respond to our survey to help us understand the current impact of COVID-19 on your training. It should take no more than 5 minutes of your time to complete.

Take our survey


Statement updated on 11th May 2020

We know you are worried and dealing with the impact of covid-19 on your education, training and personal lives. The National School working in collaboration with the universities, want to reassure you that our unified aim is to support you to continue your training; to complete your portfolio, clinical and academic work; and enable you to complete your training programme within the planned timeframe, and continue with your professional career. We understand that covid-19 has had an impact across all years of training and the school and the universities are working to ensure that no one is disadvantaged as a result. The arrangements universities are putting in place are with the agreement of the National School. Although in the first instance we have had to focus on the processes to support completing trainees and admission to the programmes in 2020, we are thinking about all of you at an earlier stage in your training, and how best to support you going forward.

The National School is in frequent contact with the HEIs, and the work of accrediting workplace training providers and supporting trainees who come to us with issues or concerns continues.

Please continue to review the usual communications from the universities and the School on our websites, by email and social media, for regular updates and information about joint webinars and Q & A sessions.

These are certainly unprecedented times and everyone is having to adapt at a pace and scale we have not previously seen in clinical and academic services. We want to thank all STP and HSST trainees for your professionalism and resilience, the very characteristics of clinical scientists.


Statement updated on 1st April 2020

Healthcare scientists of all specialties are playing a vital role in the battle against COVID-19. The testing of potential COVID-19 patients is being developed, assessed, performed and interpreted by healthcare scientists in life sciences. Physical scientists such as clinical engineers are working on the rapid deployment and configuration of additional ventilators and other newly acquired equipment. Physiological scientists, including critical care, cardiac and respiratory scientists are playing a vital role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with COVID-19. We are hearing many stories of how scientists in adjacent specialties, such as medical physicists, who manage imaging and scanning equipment and services, working long hours to support their clinical engineering colleagues in the setting up of new and redeployed equipment.

Thank you all for the incredible work that you are doing at this very challenging time. We are aware that HSSTs have already been volunteering to redeploy to other clinical specialties in order to support essential services. The NSHCS is supportive of all trainees who are able to support their colleagues across the NHS at this time.

We are working closely with the Chief Scientific Officer’s office in NHSE to identify the transferable skills of healthcare scientists across the many specialties so that healthcare scientists can be upskilled and redeployed.


Statement updated on 26th March 2020

During the exceptional circumstances that we find ourselves in, your personal safety and that of patients and colleagues is paramount. HEE and the NSHCS recognises that clinical service delivery may demand your time and that of your workplace supervisor and others supporting your training.  We understand that this may result in your schedule for workplace based training and academic learning being affected.

We are in contact with MAHSE and understand that elements of the academic teaching are being offered online where possible and some assessments can also be completed remotely so you may be able to access these. It is possible for some HSST trainees that you may have the opportunity to gather unexpected evidence for the workplace-based requirements of this programme, if this is the case, we would encourage you to do so.

The NSHCS is supportive of HSST trainees who are able to continue training at this time while also realising that, for many of you, time for training is restricted or non-existent just now. This is a daily changing picture and we know that you will be managing your time to support the priorities that arise in your department and Trust.

The recent RCPath update also links to this NSHCS statement and FAQs.

Please continue to refer to responses to FAQs listed below for updates to help guide you.

FAQs for HSST trainees

What will be the impact of HSSTs having to defer University modules or FRCPath examinations due to Covid-19?

We will work closely with MAHSE to assist with the delivery of aspects of the HSST programme going forward.

Once the impact of Covid-19 is better understood we will be able to provide further guidance on how we can support trainees – we will aim to take a pragmatic view to ensure that trainees are not adversely affected, therefore we aren’t expecting trainees to have to take any further action to request extensions or changes to programme imminently.

What is the situation with Section A modules?

We also are aware that Section A modules have been converted to be delivered remotely, deadlines have been greatly relaxed and  those trainees able to continue have been offered the opportunity to do so, but also made clear they can the defer the modules until next year.

What is the situation with upcoming RCPath Examinations?

There will be no RCPath examinations taking place before September 2020, where feasible the Spring and Autumn sittings of examinations will be combined; in specialties where an examination is normally only run in the Spring session this will be accommodated in Autumn 2020. At Part 2 in the larger specialties there may be a further Autumn date in January 2021 to accommodate as many candidates as possible. The January examination would be an extension of the Autumn sitting and not an additional session in its own right.

The RCPath will aim to give candidates at least 12 weeks’ notice of examination dates – some of these are already available the RCPath website but may be subject to change. In smaller specialties this level of notice may not be possible for logistical reasons but will take place within the advised examination period.

Arrangements for the examination, once confirmed, will be made available on the RCPath website.

Applications for the Autumn 2020 examination session will open the week commencing 11 May until Friday 3 July.

The RCPath have devised a short survey for you to complete which can be found here. They would be grateful if you could complete this no later than Sunday 10 May. It should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete and the aim of this survey is to gauge numbers for upcoming examinations to aid planning.

They will also be collecting information regarding your examination preparation to ascertain the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on both this and training.

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 coming months. 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

Can I redeploy to other clinical/specialist areas if required?

The NSHCS would support the re-deployment of HSSTs to assist with essential services in your trust if you and your department have the capacity to do so. Any re-deployment should follow local guidance and these principles:

  • you shouldn’t be asked to carry out any activities beyond your level of competence
  • you should receive appropriate induction and supervision if you’re deployed to a different clinical area
  • interruptions to your training should be recorded on your training plan and considered during your Annual Review of Progression (ARP)
  • During the current situation we do not require trainees to submit requests to allow redeployment or extensions to training

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

Yes, we will be accepting applications to IAPS under exceptional arrangements due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. In order to apply for IAPS you will need to have all Standards of Proficiency signed off and would need to ensure that you are properly prepared for the IAPS prior to requesting a sitting in December.