Severn GP COVID-19 FAQs

Trainee Safety and Support

Q. I am a trainee in a high risk group as defined by PHE/RCOG for coming into contact with patients with Covid-19. What do I do?

A. Please discuss this first with the supervisor in your host placement (practice or trust). The practice/Trust will if necessary conduct a risk assessment to determine whether and how your duties should be changed.  If you have queries about this process please contact the GP trainee lead employer, Gloucester Hospitals.

Q. I am a trainee in a high risk group as defined by PHE/RCOG for coming into contact with patients with Covid-19. What do I do?

A. Please discuss this first with the supervisor in your host placement (practice or trust). The practice/Trust will if necessary conduct a risk assessment to determine whether and how your duties should be changed.  If you have queries about this process please contact the GP trainee lead employer, Gloucester Hospitals.

Q. What support can I expect from my supervisors during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A. We believe the main priority for supervisors at the moment is to help you to practice safely, and support you by debriefing as necessary on the issues raised by working during a pandemic. Please be mindful that as practising GPs, supervisors are also currently under significant pressure due to their clinical commitments. However they will do their best to support you and will escalate issues as needed. 

Q. I am feeling overwhelmed. Who can I reach out to?

A. Trainee welfare through this crisis is now the School’s main concern. The School will continue to provide support to you through our programme teams. Our programmes are working on ways to set up regular virtual support/teaching sessions, and will continue to be the point of contact for trainees with concerns. This work will be led by our Training Programme Directors. Please approach your ES/CS in the first instance if you feel you need to speak to someone.

We also have a comprehensive list of support resources listed here.

Q. I have a question that is not covered here. Who can I speak to?

A. As practising GPs, Associate GP Deans and GP Training Programme Directors are also currently under significant pressure due to their clinical commitments. However they will do their best to support you with your queries. Questions from GP practices & ES/CS about supervision and training should be directed in the first instance to the local Associate Dean at their local patch office.

Self-isolation

Q. I need to self-isolate. Who should I tell?

A. Please report absence in the usual way. Tell your dept/practice as soon as possible and then complete a Change Form and return it to your Patch Manager. Please indicate on the form whether you are self-isolating and working or self-isolating and not working, if possible.

Q. I am self-isolating but not ill. What are the expectations of me?

A. If you are self-isolating or have to work from home for health reasons you should still be able to do useful work. In Trusts you should talk to your supervisor to see what project/audit/Quality Improvement work may be available. You may be able to undertake some telephone work or could be temporarily redeployed to another department to help with work there which is deliverable from home. In GP you can undertake telephone/video consultations if the appropriate IT is available. If necessary, you will first need to be trained and supervised in this skill. Resources to help with this are available here.

If telephone/video consulting is not possible you may still be able to make a useful contribution. Examples include audit and Quality improvement work and work on practice policies and procedures.  

Q. Will I be paid if I am self-isolating?

A.Yes, you will be paid as usual. No trainee should be financially disadvantaged during this time. Please contact Gloucester Hospitals as your Lead Employer if you have further questions about pay.

Q. I am self-isolating and want to work from home but do not have the equipment to allow me to work remotely.

A. If you are in a GP placement, CCGs are responsible for providing equipment to allow GPSTs to work from home where possible. Your practice should continue to liaise with the CCG to arrange this. We are aware that some CCGs have equipment that is more readily available than others so there may be a delay in setting you up.

If you are in a hospital placement, you should liaise with your Trust and make arrangements with them.

Q. How will time out of training for self-isolation be treated when counting training time?

A. At the moment we do not have an answer as to how this will affect training time. Further information will be published here and communicated to trainees once available.

Teaching

Q. What is happening with teaching during the COVD-19 crisis?

A. Patient safety is paramount so all face-to-face teaching will be suspended temporarily to allow practices to deal with their clinical workload. Work is in hand to develop virtual training support. The precise nature of this will vary from patch to patch; your local patch can provide details of how this is working for your area. We want to maintain support in your patch via regular video group sessions and 1-1 video or telephone chats as needed.

If a trainee has concerns about their training which their ES/CS can’t solve, then they should contact their patch team, as in the past, and they will do their best to help.

Q. Will GPSTs still have protected teaching time built into their week?

A. The current 7/3 split of clinical/education sessions in the working week has been suspended during the COVID emergency, and education sessions can be rebadged as clinical sessions. This change is likely to lead to increased workload pressure on trainees. Time will therefore still be needed during the working week for debriefing and supervision/support in practice. It’s also important that trainees are allowed time to engage with the group support and sessions organised by each patch. Supervisors should actively monitor the wellbeing of their trainees and take action if they have concerns about the impact of this workload on the trainee.

Q. How will arrangements for study and annual leave work if GPSTs have had to cancel study leave or are unable to take all their annual leave?

A. At the moment we do not have an answer as to what arrangements will be put in place for this. Further information will be published here and communicated to trainees once available.

Rotations and Redeployment

Q. What is happening with rotations starting in April? Will I rotate to a new post?

A. All trainee rotation changes in April have been stopped, so trainees who were due to move then will stay in their current post.

Q. What is happening with rotations starting in August? Will I rotate to a new post?

A We don’t yet know what will happen to rotations in August. Further information will be published here and communicated to trainees once available.

Q. I am a GP trainee who has been told that I am being redeployed inside my Trust to a different post. Can they do this?

A. Yes. In the current crisis if the Trust you are working in wants to move you to new duties they can do this and they don’t need your agreement to do so, although I would hope they would discuss this with you sensitively. They still need to follow the health guidance and also still ensure an appropriate induction to your new role and that you are properly supervised and supported. The GP School is not supporting redeployments from GP back to Trusts.

Q. If I have to be redeployed to a different post will this automatically still count towards my GP training?

A. At the moment we do not have an answer as to what may be able to count toward training. Further information will be published here and communicated to trainees once available.

Q. I am a trainee with specific specialist skills from previous training. Can I ask to be transferred to a different post to be able to use those skills?

A. If you are in Trust post you should discuss this with your current Clinical Supervisor and staff in the dept where you feel you could help. Your DME will also need to be involved in those discussions. If the Trust decide to support your move to a different post then this should be possible, as long as appropriate induction is available, and supervision and support are in place. Moves between different Trusts are unlikely to be supported.

Moves from General Practice into secondary care will not be supported as workload pressures in primary care are also rising rapidly.

Q. I am being asked to work additional hours. Do I have to?

A. The entire healthcare system is functioning differently at the moment and we are asking trainees to please be flexible at this unprecedented time. You will still need to be supervised and have adequate training in the tasks that are asked of you. You should feel safe in your tasks and should have sustainable workloads. If you have concerns, please raise this with your ES or patch team as soon as possible.

Q. How should I record the additional hours that I am working at the moment?

A. There is no national guidance available on how to record additional hours yet. However, we are asking trainees to use exception reporting on Allocate, if possible to log additional hours at the moment. We understand that there are some issues with this for GPSTs at present. Please be assured that these are being looked into and that potential alternative mechanisms are being looked at. It would also be acceptable to send an email to the Guardian of Safe Working with a screenshot of Allocate if it does not work for you. Further issues with exception reporting should be directed to Gloucester Hospitals as your Lead Employer.

Q. How will trainees be paid for additional hours they work during the COVID emergency? 

A. At present, payment for additional hours will be captured through exception reporting.  Further questions about pay should be directed to Gloucester Hospitals as your Lead Employer.

Q. How will the changes to training affect trainees on a tier 2 visa?

A. The HEE national team have put together a comprehensive FAQ for trainees on a tier 2 visa which you can find here.

OOPEs and OOPCs

Q. I am currently on OOPE. Do I have to return to training?

A. All GPSTs on OOPE have been contacted and asked to return to training. It is your choice as to whether you return. If you contact the School, we can discuss with you how to help with your return to training

Q. I am currently on OOPC. Do I have to return to training?

A. The School encourages all trainees on an OOPC currently to consider if they are able to return to training to support the NHS during the current crisis.

Q. I would like to take an OOPE/C. Can I?

A. No new OOPE requests are being approved at this time. OOPC requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Head of School.

Q. What is happening with OOP requests that have been submitted but not yet agreed?

A. All current requests for OOPE will be paused until services return to normal planning and delivery. Trainees can be reassured that they will receive an email from the local office team supporting resubmission in due course.

Where a trainee has submitted a request for an OOPC, this will be reviewed. These will be granted only on the basis of extenuating circumstances and in agreement by the PG Dean/Head of School.

Q. What is happening with recently agreed OOPs where the trainee is yet to take up the placement?

A. All such OOPs are currently on hold as subject to the “delay” in training programme rotations as outlined by HEE’s national response.

Q. Can trainees request extensions of OOPs for trainees already out of programme?

A. Unfortunately extensions will not be granted unless there are exceptional circumstances e.g. the trainee is abroad and unable to return due to restrictions.

 ARCPs, WPBAs, UUSC and Exams

The RCGP have published a useful FAQ about assessments, exams and WPBAs during the COVID-19 pandemic which you may find answers some of your questions. This is the most up to date information that is available on this subject at the moment. Other questions, not covered in the RCGP’s FAQ are below.

Advice on ARCP and WPBA requirements for trainees due to finish training before the end of August 2020 and who have passed both the CSA and AKT exam can be found here. Guidance for trainees in any other situation (including those who still need to pass either or both the CSA and AKT) will be issued separately.

If you have further questions about ARCPs and WPBAs, please contact the Education Programme team who will do their best to find answers for you.

Q. What are the current UUSC evidence requirements for trainees?

A. GPST1/2s no longer have to take UUSC sessions with OOH providers. These services don’t currently have the capacity to supervise these trainees effectively.

GPST3s still need to undertake UUSC sessions as before and can support OOH providers with their service delivery.

Q. Will all trainees still need a full ESR completing by their supervisor every 6 months?

A. At the moment we do not have an answer as to what the ESR requirements are. Further information will be published here and communicated to trainees once available.