Industrial action and management of Doctors in Postgraduate Training
The impact of industrial action may vary by region and provider. Locally Employed Doctors (LEDs) are not managed by Health Education England (HEE), so any decision about their redeployment sits with the provider.
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained on this page. The information presented is accurate at the time of publication.
Impact of Industrial Action on training progression
Managing planned local and regional teaching on strike days
Providers are asked to review whether
- trainers can be released to provide teaching
- whether Doctors in Postgraduate Training (DrPgTs) will be able to be released.
This will depend on availability of other staff. Any formal teaching or training that cannot take place would be expected to be delivered on an alternative day, prior to DrPGTs rotating or completing their programme. DrPgTs who opt to take strike action would not be expected to attend planned teaching during the strike.
Impact on Foundation training time
All Foundation doctors have a 20-day absence allowance (per year) for sick leave, compassionate leave. This is particularly important in Foundation Year 1 (FY1) as this is a time-based programme, with each FY1 doctor having to complete 12 months training pro rata.
If a Foundation doctor has more time off than this, a review of their performance is triggered, but this does not mean an automatic extension to training.
In the event of doctors in training taking industrial action in 2023, then any time absent from work may be considered to be within the ’20-day allowance’.
If the ’20-day allowance’ is exceeded for any reason (including industrial action), then this should trigger a review of overall performance and achievement of curricular outcomes, but does not mean an automatic extension to training. This review will be carried out by the Foundation School with oversight by the Postgraduate Dean, but, in line with Gold Guide, does not require an Annual Review of Competency Progression (ARCP).
This should be discussed with the Foundation School Director/Postgraduate Dean before any training is extended.
Progression and ARCP
The ARCP process assesses whether a DrPgT has met the curriculum requirements for their stage of training and identifies those who have a further developmental need (identified by an outcome 2 or 3). It does not take into account the reasons why a DrPgT has a further developmental need but does record this.
The impact on an individual DrPgT could be because they choose to strike or because of the impact of a strike on services and training opportunities for those who chose to be at work.
The Educational Supervisor report and ARCP will not record whether an individual chose to strike or not, but where industrial action impacted on their training to the extent of requiring an extension to training, that will be recorded in the Educational Supervisor (ES) report and ARCP.
Planned ARCPs on days of industrial action
If your ARCP is planned to take place on a day of industrial action, the decision to proceed will depend on the level of industrial action. This will be decided by the Postgraduate Dean, but should a significant number of providers be affected, it is likely that ARCPs will be rearranged for a non-strike day on the basis that panel members may be required to support clinical services. DrPgTs do not attend the ARCP and feedback will be provided through the normal routes taking into account DrPgT availability due to industrial action.
If your event is cancelled or you choose not to attend, you should endeavour to obtain a refund for any expenses incurred.
If the event was cancelled and you are unable to obtain a refund, please submit your claim and receipts to your Trust/Programme Office via the usual study leave claim process.
Impact of Industrial Action on Medical Specialty Recruitment
Contingency plans for specialty recruitment are being prepared on a specialty by specialty basis and will be shared at a later date, and will depend on the dates of industrial action, recognising that interviewers may not be able to support recruitment if needed to cover in-patient work on strike days.
National recruitment interviews
If your national recruitment interview falls on a date of planned industrial, cancellation will be dependant on panel member availability. This will be reviewed on a specialty by specialty basis if industrial action takes place and the dates clash with a national recruitment event for that specialty.
Plan B selection processes
If your interview is affected by industrical action, the decision to revert to plan B will be dependent on whether interviews can be rescheduled and still meet the Code of Practice deadlines. Any change in advertised selection criteria will only occur after engagement with the specialty and trainee representative groups. The contingency used for each specialty is being discussed and will include what we learned from the coronavirus (COVID-19) ‘plan B’ recruitment approaches in 2020.
Rescheduling interview if you wish to attend a picket line
If you choose to attend a picket line, the decision to reschedule your interview will be subject to available capacity and whether your specialty has a single interview date. It will also depend on whether interviews go ahead on a strike day and the contingency plans for that specialty as outlined above.
Certificate of Sponsorship and industrial action
As part of the UKVI Policy guidance industrial action is one of the exceptions where a sponsored worker can be absent without pay for more than 4 weeks and the employer would not be required to withdraw sponsorship.
NHS England sponsored trainees are required to report via an online form that they have undertaken industrial action within 10 days after the day of action (section C1.12 of this guidance). Please refer to further guidance for reference.
NHS England will report it directly to the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) and will not pass on any information to other bodies such as the employers.
Interviews in devolved nations
National recruitment interviews planned in devolved nations not affected by industrial action can proceed as planned.
Applicants in England applying for posts in one of the devolved nations are advised to avoid booking interviews on days when there is industrial action. Interview days outside of the industrial action will also be available and the recruitment team will endeavour to accommodate affected applicants on one of these.
Redeployment of DrPgTs to cover colleagues who take strike action
Re-deploying DrPgTs who are not on strike
Redeployment of DrPgTs, where needed to ensure patient safety, and where other staff are not available to cover, could be redeployed in line with the current guidance, noting that prior approval is needed from the Postgraduate Dean.
Given that it is likely there will be an impact on all clinical settings, DrPgTs who choose not to strike are probably better remaining in their usual areas of work to ensure a safe patient environment working with senior colleagues and other staff, rather than moving them to an unfamiliar setting.
Should a redeployment be necessary, then a clear departmental induction and provision for clinical supervision will be needed. No DrPgT should be expected to work outside their level of competence.
Filling in exception reports during industrial action
DrPgTs should continue to complete and submit both Education and Hours Exception Reports through the Guardian for Safe Working if there is an impact on their training or then work outside their agreed hours. Staff who have concerns about their, or patient, safety during a strike should discuss this directly with their educational or clinical supervisor or through the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian.
Consultant industrial action
Supervision arrangements for doctors in postgraduate training and locally employed doctors during industrial action
The British Medical Association (BMA) has stated that ‘Christmas Day cover’ will be in place, so the supervision of medical staff will follow the systems already in place in secondary care providers at weekends and Bank Holidays.
Doctors will continue to work within, and be supported by, multidisciplinary teams in their place of work, and be responsible to the ‘on call’ consultant/senior clinician as currently happens.
Providers are asked to ensure that routes for escalation of concerns are clearly documented and the on call consultant clearly identified to clinical teams for each clinical area.
Management of educational activities during industrial action
It is very likely that the majority of formal educational activities in secondary care will have to be postponed, recognising that consultants deliver much of this, and that specialty doctors and specialists (SAS doctors) are likely to be providing senior clinical cover. This includes local and regional teaching.
Providers are expected to honour annual and study leave for doctors in postgraduate training unless there is a significant risk to patient safety.
NHS England (NHSE) Workforce, Training and Education (WT&E) in each region will consider whether timetabled ARCPs will need to be postponed, will utilise the derogations in place for panel size and prioritise those informing key progression points or the likelihood of developmental outcomes in training.
Educational supervision and formal clinical supervisor activities will be postponed, recognising the role of consultants as clinical educators and the role of SAS doctors in supporting the clinical service at this time.
Page last reviewed: 4 July 2023
Next review due: 4 July 2024
Details of the principles for redeployment of Doctors in Postgraduate Training