HSST Monthly Memo (March 2021)

Our monthly memo for HSST trainees and supervisors features relevant news, helpful tips, opportunities to promote healthcare science and FAQs.

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HSST Monthly Memo 2021
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Message from Dr Owen Driskell, HSST Training Programme Director

March is upon us, a month which will include the anniversary of the first UK COVID Lockdown. It has been a challenging year but one that has seen Healthcare Scientists really come to the fore. Healthcare scientists supporting the COVID effort were recognised and their roles in wider healthcare given greater visibility.

Also occurring in March was Healthcare Science Week. It has been great to see the publicity healthcare scientists and their roles have been getting on Trust websites, Facebook pages and on Twitter. This greater public awareness no doubt contributed to the unprecedented interest in the scientific training schemes this year. Not only is the work you are doing important to the health and wellbeing of the nation, but it is also inspiring the next generation of healthcare scientists to do the same.


COVID interruptions for HSST

For almost the past 12 months, the School has offered flexibility to HSST trainees in managing their training by facilitating interruptions to training. This was for situations where service pressures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted on the time or ability to engage with the HSST. Given the changing circumstances of the pandemic and impact on the wider health service, the process has been reviewed and updated.

As of April 1st 2021 changes to the criteria for COVID interruption are as follows:

  1. Going forward we will require a more detailed narrative around the impact of COVID to justify the interruption. Interruptions will be assessed on the details of need provided on the application. Applications without further detail will not be considered.
  2. The maximum permitted amount of time for any one COVID interruption application is 6 months. Repeat applications will be considered to a maximum sum of 12 months interruption. However, interruptions should be carefully planned and measured to meet the required need, thereby trying to avoid multiple consecutive applications. Beyond these timeframes the Exceptional Extenuating Circumstances (EEC) policy will be the route through to requesting time out of programme.
  3. There is now a requirement to submit a supporting letter from the Head of Department (or suitable employer representative) detailing the impact of COVID on the provision of training for the HSST.

The process to submit an application remains the same and the form should be accessed via One File. You will be able to upload the letter from the Head of Department in OneFile.

This is a non-funded interruption. HEE funding is not guaranteed beyond any original completion date and therefore trainees and employers should take this into account when making any request. A declaration that this has taken place will be part of the application.

A trainee’s consideration of the impact of interruption on their academic progress, and communication with course providers, are a vital part of the process. We do not anticipate this route for interruption will be available indefinitely and the process will be reviewed regularly (at least every three months).

Click here to view our the Exceptional Extenuating Circumstances (EEC) policy


Training support

As we move further into Spring, the Government roadmap has given us some hope for the easing of restrictions and for a sense of normality to return. However, it remains a difficult time and we wish to remind trainees of the support available to them throughout their training.

Introducing our new training support case manager

As part of the ongoing support the School is providing, the role of training support case manager was created, and we would like to take this opportunity to introduce Katherine Bayley who joined the School in January 2021. Katherine works with experts in healthcare science education and training to ensure professional support, advice and guidance are available to trainees and training departments.

Future training support developments

We are looking at how we can further increase awareness of the support services currently provided by the School, along with some exciting future developments.

Thursday 4th March was an opportunity for the School to meet with the Trainee Representative Group to further explore what support would be most helpful, along with identifying what can realistically be offered with the resources available. During this meeting current examples and ideas for future training support were discussed and feedback from the group was gratefully received. The School values the opportunity to hear as much of the trainee voice on training as possible.

How to get support

Trainees and training officers often ask how to contact us about training support-related issues. The NSHCS inbox is the most appropriate way to raise your concerns or to request a further discussion. This mailbox is only accessible to a small number of staff in the School, members of the Programme Support team, who will review any requests and forward on to relevant staff in the School where that is appropriate. All emails received are treated confidentially. However, if people do not wish to disclose full details in an email they can notify us that they have a training support issue to discuss and we will give you a named contact who can arrange a call to discuss or follow up with you by email. We appreciate that if there are support issues that often they can be sensitive and so we have processes in place to ensure access is minimised and only those staff who will take forward your concern are made aware of your communication.

If any trainees or training officers need some advice/support, please do explore the useful content on the website or contact us directly if you require assistance at

Click here to find more resources available to trainees and training officers looking for more support


LEEP Leadership Programme

LEEP (Leading through Education to Excellent Patient care) Leadership Programme is a free leadership training programme open to HSST trainees and STP Alumni (in the first instance).

You will attend 4 webinars held on Microsoft Teams and will have to complete a change management project in a group. You will need to be willing to attend all elements of the course and be open to running the course for other attendees, specifically year 2 STP trainees starting from September 21.

The webinars will be interactive with break out rooms for discussion and then feeding back to the whole group. There will also be pre-course material including videos, podcasts and a reflective journal.

Please email with your preferred date for each webinar, your organisation and role by 31st March if you wish to attend.

 Click here to find out more about the LEEP Leadership Programme


Gain funding to join the FCI

Interested in working with data and digital to deliver scientific services? Gain funding to join the FCI.

In February we announced a joint venture between the National School and the Faculty of Clinical Informatics (FCI) to fund Faculty membership for healthcare scientists working with data and information to deliver scientific services.

If you have a strong interest in the use of data or the development of digital services within your role as a healthcare scientist, you are definitely eligible to apply for this funding. You do not need to be formally enrolled on a bioinformatics or health informatics programme to qualify.

The current round of applications closes at midnight on March 22. If you would like to develop a connection with other healthcare professionals working with information, technology, data and digital to provide safe, effective and efficient health and care services for the public, please do consider applying to join the FCI.

To apply, please complete the Faculty of Clinical Informatics Membership or Associate application form by midnight on 22nd March 2021.

Click here to visit the FCI website to find out more about the benefits of membership


Promoting healthcare science

It was wonderful to see so many trainees and training officers taking part in Healthcare Science Week earlier this month and adapting plans in line with COVID-19 restrictions.

If you produced any videos or podcasts that promote what you do as a healthcare scientist that you would be happy for us to share on our website please do get in touch by emailing



STP curriculum review

We would like to express our thanks to all those who participated and contributed feedback in the STP Stakeholder Review.

Input from you is essential to help us develop a curriculum that is patient centred, scientifically relevant and current. We’re working with our Lead Editors on your feedback and comments to continue to draft the STP curricula for the next generation of Clinical Scientists.

Last updated on 10th March 2022

This publication is part of HSST Monthly Memos (2021)