Guidance for training officers on providing a declaration of competence 

Vital information for STP training officers on when sign off is required and by whom.


When is sign off required?

Alternative pathways to Scientist Training Programme (STP) completion have been introduced in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19. Where full completion of the modules is not possible sign off attesting to the trainee’s fitness to practice is required. Where all modules on OneFile have been completed with a satisfactory outcome and 2 x Multi source Feedback (MSF) exercises have been completed, no sign off is required. Click this link for details on completion routes. All trainees are expected to complete as much of their portfolio as possible, and it is recognised that in many departments training officers and trainees are now in a position to facilitate completion of all competencies. The alternative pathways to completion should be by exception when trainees are unable to access specific competencies during their training, or where late completion of the rotations would be at the expense of specialist training. Any competencies or assessments that cannot be completed must be discussed and agreed with training officers, including providing evidence to satisfy training officers that lack of completion is due to COVID-19.  We have not provided minimum levels of competencies to be completed – as disruption is variable we believe that the training officer and colleagues within the same organisation are best placed to understand the local disruption and this is recognised by the need for sign off/counter sign off by an individual with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration.


Who is responsible for sign off?

The Training Officer has responsibility for the oversight of their trainee’s progression and development throughout the programme, and the Training Officer registered on our database and named in the department’s accreditation documents is responsible for the sign off.
If multiple supervisors are involved in training, the registered Training Officer should take the local supervisor’s advice before signing the trainee off.

Completion of the STP confers eligibility for statutory registration as a Clinical Scientist with the HCPC (Health Care Professions Council). It is a requirement to provide sufficient assurance of a trainee’s fitness to practice which meets the standards set by the HCPC by sign off by a HCPC registered scientist. Where a Training Officer is not HCPC registered, they should follow a process of sign off by their Training Officer who should hold professional or voluntary registration with a counter signature from a HCPC registered Clinical or Biomedical Scientist within the same organisation. Details of how to do this will be provided prior to the completion date, but we would advise that Training Officers in this situation contact a suitable HCPC registered scientist in advance of this to begin discussions. Lead Healthcare scientists are available in most Trusts and can help to offer suggestions of suitable scientists where required.


Training Officer is HCPC registered?

Use the points below to help you decide:

  • COVID-19 disruption to training
  • The outcome of the IACC and progress since then.
  • Trainee’s progression throughout the three years of the STP training period.
  • The outcome of the trainee’s midterm review of progression (MRP).
  • Percentage of the overall completion on One File.
  • Percentage of completion of the specialist/scientific modules on One File.
  • Locally implemented assessments on specialist competencies. Please note these assessments should form only one piece of evidence for arriving at a decision for the sign-off criteria.  The decision should be based on a holistic review using several pieces of evidence of the trainee’s development of the specialist competencies.

Training Officer is not HCPC registered?

Use the points below to help you decide – as above plus:

  • The HCPC registered Clinical Scientist counter signatory is a requirement.
  • The counter signatory is ‘endorsing’ not ‘attesting’ and doing it in a professional capacity rather than as a ‘specialist’.
  • To expedite the counter signatory, Training Officers should explain the requirement for the endorsement and provide the evidence of specialty specific competence e.g. portfolio, outcome of a professional discussion or other locally implemented assessment and talk through the essentials.
  • Your Trust Lead Scientist, Training Group lead, rotation modules department Training Officer etc. – these colleagues may be HCPC registered and can be approached to endorse attestation or provide support to find a HCPC registered scientist.

What happens if a Training Officer does not feel the trainee is ready for sign off?

Training Officers may feel unable to sign off a trainee that has met the published completion routes where there have been significant areas for concern during training e.g. patient safety or clinical practice. The School would normally already be aware of these concerns. In such cases, substantial evidence will be required from the Training Officer to provide to the School. Evidence could include details of any local performance or HR processes applied, incident reports, supervision arrangements and activities undertaken to address any shortfall in progression or performance e.g., adjustment of the training plan and engagement of other colleagues in training. It could also include details of any feedback given and any local assessments applied and remediation activities undertaken. This is not an exhaustive list and Training Officers are encouraged to be as detailed and comprehensive in their response as possible.

Training Officers should only sign off trainees who they believe to be safe and ready to enter practice as newly registered Clinical Scientists. For trainees unable to complete their portfolio due to reasons other than COVID-19, please contact the School to discuss alternative options as early as possible and no later than August 2023 in order to receive timely advice and support.

Last updated on 25th May 2022