Statement updated on 30th March 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 developed, assessed, performed and interpreted by healthcare scientists. Scientists such as clinical engineers are working flat out 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.
In response to the need for significantly more clinical scientists to be available to the NHS over the next few months we are supporting efforts to allow final year trainees to progress into service as soon as possible. We are working with the Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) to swiftly establish a method that will enable final year clinical science trainees to be placed on a temporary register in order to progress into positions in service.
We are hearing many stories of how scientists in adjacent specialties, such as medical physicists, who manage imaging and scanning equipment and services, are working long hours to support their clinical engineering colleagues in the setting up of new and redeployed equipment. Healthcare science apprentices have made changes in their roles to work beyond their current contracts in sterile services to support decontamination in laboratories.
We are working closely with the Chief Scientific Officer’s office in NHSE to identify the transferrable skills of healthcare scientists across the many specialties so that healthcare scientists can be upskilled and redeployed against the virus.
Statement updated on 24th March 2020
HEE and the NSHCS understands and values the significant contribution that all HCS STP colleagues, trainees and training officers, make to the delivery of care for patients. In these exceptional circumstances, we all recognise that significant changes may need to be made to planned training, including novel methods for delivery of academic material and disruption to rotational placements. We wish to reassure you all that the unique nature of current circumstances will be taken into account when assessing progress against curricula during this time.
The NSHCS is reviewing processes in training programme management to minimise risk across all aspects, from recruitment to assessment and completion and to mitigate against any negative impact on trainees’ progression. If learning opportunities to gain required competences are frustrated by events e.g. an exam or mandatory course is cancelled. We will be continuously liaising with Employers, HEIs, and other stakeholders and will provide regular updates as the situation changes.
STP trainees are embedded in departments and are Trust employees – we expect that they should continue in their current workplace unless managers and supervisors are unable through staffing absence or risk assessment to support them. If either of these (or another reason) is the case, then consideration should be made by the Trust employing department to re-deploy these staff to support other clinical activity elsewhere or if this is not appropriate then to look at allocating additional study time. Many HEIs are providing learning online and trainees could use this time to access this and to meet learning outcomes through self-directed learning where possible.