Coronavirus information for trainees

We’re working closely with all organisations involved in postgraduate medical training to support trainees throughout this challenging period. We hope this information about our work provides some reassurance.

But we know this is still an uncertain time and many trainees will be worried about future exams and progression. We’re regularly reviewing the situation and listening to feedback from trainees.

Changes to postgraduate training introduced in 2020

At the start of the pandemic, we developed guiding principles for those involved in your training. These include:

  • you shouldn’t be asked to carry out any activities beyond your level of competence
  • you should receive appropriate induction and supervision if you’re moved to a different clinical area

We also joined with postgraduate deans, royal colleges and faculties to develop a flexible approach to the Annual Review of Competency Progression (ARCP). This included setting up a new process for royal colleges and faculties to apply for temporary curricula changes to support training progression.

Since April 2020, royal colleges and faculties have reviewed all their curricula and we’ve approved many temporary changes. We’ve used key principles to guide our assessment of proposed changes, including maintaining patient safety and high standards of medical training.

We’ve worked with royal colleges, faculties and trainees to develop new guidance for postgraduate exams during the pandemic. This has enabled over 100 exams to run safely, while upholding standards.

Identifying and addressing issues using our national training survey

Last year’s national training survey focused on how the spring peak of the pandemic affected postgraduate training. Over 38,000 trainees and trainers took part, giving us a clear snapshot into training experiences across all specialties, regions and countries of the UK.

Along with postgraduate deans, royal colleges and faculties, we’re using these results to resolve areas of concern and share good practice.

This year’s survey results will inform our work to support your wellbeing. They’ll help us to better understand how the pandemic is continuing to affect training, workloads and burnout so that we can work with your postgraduate deans and employers to tackle local issues.

And they’ll help us as we continue to take forward recommendations from Professor Michael West and Dame Denise Coia’s UK-wide wellbeing review, ‘Caring for doctors, caring for patients’. They’ll also influence our work with health services and partners across the UK, to promote supportive and inclusive healthcare cultures and training environments for all doctors.

Continuing to take a flexible approach in 2021

All the changes introduced in 2020 will continue for the period of disruption caused by the pandemic, and at least until September 2021. We’re working with royal colleges and faculties on further opportunities for any temporary changes to their curricula to support training progression. 

We’re also regularly meeting with education bodies across the UK to understand how we can help trainees who haven’t been able to gain their competencies. We’ll explore how their progression could be supported by outcomes gained from wider experiences.