Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

COVID-19 FAQs for Trainees

The following advice is based upon the information available as of 26th March 2020.
These FAQs will be updated as the situation develops.

NIMDTA is aware of the multiple concerns around the impact of supporting the response to COVID-19 on postgraduate medical and dental education and training.  

There will be increasing requirements for trainees to support the HSC in managing the care of acutely ill patients and the statutory education bodies (HEE, NES, HEIW and NIMDTA) are working together with the Chief Medical Officers, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the GMC and the GDC to manage the impact on the longer term needs of doctors and dentists in training. 

All guidance and correspondence which has been issued to trainees in relation to supporting the COVID-19 response is available at www.nimdta.gov.uk/covid-19-information.

Am I still required to attend Teaching and Training Events?

DoH and HSC guidance has been received advising that in order to focus on the training required to up skill and train staff to support essential services, all non-essential events and training will cease. There will also be no attendance at regional, national or international courses.  As a result all NIMDTA postgraduate teaching and training events have been postponed or cancelled.    Although teaching and education events have been cancelled, vital training such as resuscitation will be provided in Trusts where required.

Will I have an ARCP as scheduled in May/June 2020 and how will this affect my progression through training?

Guidance on contingency planning for ARCP has been developed across the 4 nations to adapt assessments to ensure patient care remains a primary focus.  This correspondence is available at www.nimdta.gov.uk/covid-19-information.  The ARCP process will proceed but will be modified to minimise the potential impact of these educational processes on delivering front line services.  ARCP panels will take into account the impact of the pandemic when arriving at an Outcome.  There has been 4 nation agreement with the JRCPTB that PYAs for Medical Specialty trainees should be temporarily suspended until such time as the current crisis recedes.  Trainees will not be required to travel to attend the ARCP for feedback; instead this may be delivered via Skype or in a subsequent meeting with your TPD or ES.

I am in my final year of training and expect to CCT in August 2020. Will there be an extension to the Period of Grace period to account for any delayed Trust recruitment for consultant posts as a result of COVID-19?

At present the Period of Grace is six months.  This will be kept under review should information be received from Trusts in relation to a delay in the recruitment of Consultants.

I am a GP ST2 - should we continue to book OOH sessions to meet the requirements of ARCP?
  

Response required.

What if I was due to Revalidate??
  

To alleviate pressures on clinicians involved in dealing with the pandemic the GMC is deferring all revalidation recommendations due between now and September by 1 year. This will apply to doctors in training moving through the routine 5 year cycle as well as the additional revalidation recommendation associated with CCT. Therefore CCT will not be coupled with a revalidation recommendation for this period of time.

What if my College has cancelled the next sitting of the exam?
 

All College examinations have been cancelled with effect from Monday 23 March 2020.  Correspondence on behalf of the 4 nations is available at www.nimdta.gov.uk/covid-19-information.  Trainees can claim for travel and accommodation expenses that they have incurred associated with examinations if this is not refundable via other methods. If you are impacted by this please email studyleave.nimdta@hscni.net.

What if my College has cancelled the next sitting of the exam which is required for me to progress? E.g. ALS as an ARCP requirement to progress

ARCP panels will review progress in relation to exam. Where an exam has been cancelled the impact on progression will be considered and a decision made whether it is appropriate under these exceptional circumstances to progress to the next year of training without the exam. Further guidance is expected for individual programmes prior to the ARCPs taking place.

What will happen to Recruitment Processes for August 2020?

A decision has been made to cancel all face to face specialty recruitment interviews with immediate effect.  Correspondence on behalf of the 4 nations is available at www.nimdta.gov.uk/covid-19-information. Recruitment processes are being revised to ensure selection can take place using different methods. Trainees who have been impacted by this have received email correspondence and further information will be issued as plans progress.

I require a visa to work in the UK and my interviews have now been postponed. What does this mean for me?

NIMDTA is working with all stakeholders to confirm contingency plans for recruitment processes and a revised timetable will be shared as soon as possible, however a change to the post start dates is not anticipated.  Due to changes to the shortage occupation list, with the exception of Public Health, there is no longer a requirement to start in post within 6 months of the publication date of the advert for the specialty.  As such, changes to the recruitment timeline are unlikely to have a significant effect on your visa application if you are new to the HSCNI, however these may impact on your start date in post.  If you are not currently sponsored by HSCNI, you are required to have your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) in your possession before you are able to commence training. Time is needed to allow the team to process your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and the Home Office need a minimum of 8 weeks to process your application (unless a priority service is used). In light of this, processing of visa applications may mean that you are unable to start until after August 2020.

I am currently living in the UK, but am not sponsored by NIMDTA or a HSC Trust and would need to travel to my home country to apply for a visa. Given the pandemic, is there anything in place that would allow me to obtain a visa without travel to my home country?

Not at this current time. The Home Office would need to advise on travel related to your visa application.

Where can I find further information regarding immigration queries related to Coronavirus?

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have set up a Coronavirus Immigration Helpline, for immigration queries related only to Coronavirus:  Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). Calls are free of charge.  Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

I am currently in Academic Training? How will this be affected?

Trainees in Clinical Academic Training Programmes or OOPR are being approached to return to clinical work to support the HSC.  Discussions are taking place with universities and funding bodies in relation to the impact on research programmes.

I am due to go on OOPT/E/R in August 2020. Will I still be able to go on this OOP?

While at present we are proceeding on the basis that your OOP will go ahead as planned, we need to make you aware that the unfolding impact of Covid-19 on service and on medical staffing could necessitate these arrangements being put on hold. Our hope is that that will not be necessary – but the current extraordinary circumstances and the uncertainties around the potential impact in the coming weeks and months require us to consider a number of contingency arrangements, one of which might be to pause OOPs.  We will keep you updated of any changes that might impact on your plans for OOP.

I have applied for an inter-deanery transfer, will I still be able to transfer in August 2020?

The Inter Deanery Transfer Process for August 2020 is currently on hold and further guidance is awaited from the National IDT Team.

Will I be able to move to my next planned rotation on 1 April 2020?

Correspondence has been issued to trainees advising that all planned rotations due to take place on 1 April 2020 will cease with trainees being asked to remain in their present working environment unless by exception.  F2 trainees who are currently in an Academic Placement will return to the hospital environment. F2 trainees who are currently in a General Practice will remain in their current post.

I was due to “Act Up” as a Consultant in the coming months. Will I still be able to do this?

Yes.  If you have agreed to do this at the request of your department and with the approval of your TPD.

Will I still be able to take previously booked Study Leave?

Trainees are advised that no further study leave should be applied for or booked.  Trainees should endeavour to obtain a refund for pre-booked expenses. Trainees who had applied for and been approved for study leave to attend courses will be reimbursed for the expenses already incurred on submission of receipts and in line with study leave guidelines.  Any queries should be emailed to studyleave.nimdta@hscni.net.

I am a GPST - Will my day release teaching programme still be going ahead?

No. The half day/day-release programmes for GPST will be suspended in the interim so you can support the clinical work in the practice.

Will there be a requirement to redeploy trainees?

Due to the unprecedented demands placed on healthcare delivery there may be a requirement for trainees to be temporarily redeployed to support the most urgent clinical areas. Trainee will have received correspondence from the Postgraduate Dean and HSC Trust Medical Directors in relation to redeployment planning.  This is available at www.nimdta.gov.uk/covid-19-information.

Do I still need to attend a planned Deanery Visit?

Deanery visits and placement quality workstreams have been postponed.  Quality issues will still require monitoring and this will be done as pragmatically and supportively as possible.

Do I still need to complete the 2020 GMC NTS?

The 2020 GMC NTS has also been postponed during this period.

Where can I access support for my own Health and Wellbeing?

NIMDTA will continue to provide access to Professional Support services during this crisis.  If you wish to make an appointment please email professionalsupport.nimdta@hscni.net.

What should I do if I am pregnant or have an Underlying Health Issue?

The Royal College of Gynaecologists published updated guidance, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in Pregnancy, on 21 March 2020.  This can be found at:
https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/2020-03-21-covid19-pregnancy-guidance-2118.pdf

The RCOG guidance advises that subject to taking social distancing precautions at work, pregnant women under 28 weeks with no underlying medical conditions can continue to work. Pregnant women over 28 weeks and those with underlying conditions should take a more precautionary approach and are strongly advised to follow social distancing advice. Chapter 6 of the RCOG guidance provides more detailed information. This guidance is under active review and we expect it will be updated in due course if/should the need arise.

The current Public Health England advice (updated 20 March 2020) is that those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.  This advice is at www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Line managers, in conjunction with Occupational Health where necessary, should use the available guidance as appropriate given the context at hand for individual members of staff, eg gestation, maternal medical history and health status, nature of occupation/healthcare role, nature of the healthcare environment, nature of service provided/delivered, etc.

What if I have an Underlying Health Issue?

The current Public Health England advice (updated 20 March 2020) is that those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. This advice is at www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

The HSC is awaiting further guidance in respect of staff in these categories.

What if I have a Severe Underlying Health Issue?

Public Health England issued guidance on 22 March 2020 for people who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition. The HSC therefore is strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below) which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to rigorously follow protective measures in order to keep themselves safe.

People falling into this significantly vulnerable group include:
1. Solid organ transplant recipients
2. People with specific cancers:
• people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
• people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
• people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
• people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
• people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who
• are still taking immunosuppression drugs
3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Individuals in these categories will be receiving a letter from the HSC this week to advise that they should protect themselves at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from receipt of this letter. Please note that this period of time could change. Please follow the guidance at http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Trainees in the above categories who receive a letter should seek Occupational Health advice.

What if I have Childcare Responsibilities?

Information has been issued from the Department of Education advising that schools will remain open for children of key works to support and maintain the health and social care sector.  This will apply to trainees with children up to and including Year 10. Further information is available at www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/letter-minister-education-education-sector

The Department of Health has announced a new Home Childcarer Scheme to allow parents to have their children cared for in their own home. For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, a bespoke version of the approved home childcarer scheme has been set up which will enable key workers to be temporarily matched with one of their children’s current day care workers. Further information is available www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-approved-home-childcare-scheme

Please email ValuedTrainees@hscni.net with any additional queries or concerns.  We will continue to update this list of FAQs regularly.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information for trainees

NIMDTA continues to work with the DoH, PHA, HSC Trusts, GMC, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the other Statutory Education Bodies in the UK to respond in a coordinated way to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Department of Health NI
advice and updates on Coronavirus are available at https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus. The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has published its Summary Covid-19 Plan for the period Mid-March to Mid-April 2020 on 19 March 2020.  The Department of Education has defined who is considered a key worker in regard to be able to send your children to school – this includes doctors working in Health and Social Care https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/news/list-key-workers.

4-Nation Department of Health, GMC and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

Public Health Agency
information and advice is available at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus

General Medical Council

The UK Foundation Programme Office

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  has produced advice for pregnant healthcare workers and employers during the coronavirus outbreak: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/news/updated-advice-for-pregnant-healthcare-workers-and-employers-during-coronavirus-outbreak/

NIMDTA has provided a summary guidance document for trainees and there is a joint NIMDTA and HSC Trust statement regarding redeployment of trainees

Joint NIMDTA and HSCT Trust statement

Early Registration of Doctors

Training - related guidance and information

General Trainee Guidance

Guidance document for trainees

Supporting the COVID-19 Response – Medical Education (10 March 2020)

Recruitment

 Applicant letter Specialty Recruitment (19 March 2020)

ARCP

Contingency planning for ARCPs (19 March 2020)

Temporary suspension of PYA process (13 March 2020)

Examinations

Exams for doctors in training (19 March 2020)

Allocations and Rotations

Plans for Management of Medical Training Rotations (16 March 2020)

Dental Training

Supporting the COVID-19 Response – Dental Education (16 March 2020)

Training - related guidance and information

The Department of Health is seeking support from all health care professionals to contribute to the HSC’s response to this pandemic.  Health Minister Robin Swann has announced the early registration of QUB final year medical students and the GMC is planning to grant temporary registration of doctors who have given up their licence to practise within the last 3 years.  NIMDTA is approaching doctors who are out of programme to seek their agreement to be seconded back to the HSC to support the service in its response to the Coronavirus epidemic.

NIMDTA is currently fully operational, but in line with Public Health guidance we are transitioning to working largely off site.   As a result our phone system is currently being modified to be able to accommodate telephone calls in line with this. In the interim we would ask that you email us with any enquiries. If you are not sure of the person that you need to contact directly, please email reception.nimdta@hscni.net and your email will be forwarded to the appropriate person.

Keith Gardiner Chief Executive/Postgraduate Medical Dean[/expandsub1]

Other useful information

GP Appraisal

Dental Trainees

Professional Support and Well-being