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.


Previous statements

7th July 2020 - Joint statement from the School and Universities about study time for trainees

The National School of Healthcare Science, in collaboration with colleagues at all STP and HSST provider universities, would like to clarify the position for 2020/21 in relation to study time for trainees.

Preparations are under way for the start of the next academic year and there may be changes to the way teaching is delivered by the universities, at least initially. Each university will inform its own students how their programme will be delivered.

Where teaching is delivered online rather than face to face, the amount of time dedicated to study should be the same as for previous cohorts of trainees. Trainees this year will need the same number of hours released for study as they would have had for the face to face teaching.

In addition to this, trainees will still need 20% of their time as protected private study time throughout the programme.

It is a requirement of the programme that all trainees engage with the prescribed learning and that employers respect the trainee’s supernumerary status and ensure study time is provided. At the beginning of the programme, as soon as the teaching arrangements are known, trainees and training officers should agree between them how sufficient time will be allocated for study.

14th May 2020 - Covid-19 survey re training

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.

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

11th May 2020 - Update about current situation

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.

1st April 2020 - Thank you to all HSST trainees

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.

26th March 2020 - Update about Covid-19 and training

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.


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.

Last updated on 22nd July 2021