Advocacy for trainees over the COVID-19 pandemic

"You, the staff of the NHS, are its most precious resource." Dr Emma Coombe explains how the Trainees Committee is working to minimise and mitigate against the impact of the pandemic on child health services, your training and, crucially, your wellbeing.
Emma in the clinic

While it’s been far from business as usual for the Trainees Committee this spring, what has been consistent has been our advocacy for trainees both within and beyond RCPCH.

As a committee we’ve worked with key figures in the College, trying to anticipate the many challenges that COVID-19 has thrown and will continue to throw our way. Guidance has been created on trainee progression in the UK through 2020. We’re doing what we can to minimise and mitigate against the impact these have on the services we deliver for children and young people, on our training, and on our wellbeing.

The cancellation of the April sitting of START (Specialty Trainee Assessment of Readiness for Tenure) will be a worry for many of you. Rest assured the College is working hard to expand capacity for more trainees than usual to sit START in the autumn. Knowing your expected CCT (Certification of Completion of Training) date is useful for getting a place on START, particularly if you are LTFT (less than full time training). And you can make sure your Paediatric School and ARCP panel know your accurate expected CCT date by filling this in yourself on RCPCH ePortfolio on Kaizen - go to ‘create new’, then ‘Trainee-led Record for Completion of Training Date’ under the ‘Completion’ section.

ARCPs will take into account the impact of the pandemic on training opportunities

We know many ARCPs (Annual Review of Competence Progression) may have to be postponed this summer, but the College is working with paediatric schools to identify trainees at critical progression points between training levels and prioritise them. ARCPs will take into account the impact of the pandemic on training opportunities, and as always your Educational Supervisor’s report will be a key item of evidence for the panel’s consideration.

However, not all opportunities for learning have vanished, so please keep contributing to your ePortfolio when you can, and documenting the skills and experience you are gaining. The flexibility of the Progress curriculum means you can evidence transferable skills and learning from a variety of different environments - meaning all is not lost if you’ve been redeployed!

We still don’t know for certain whether August and September rotations for junior doctors will go ahead, but the College is committed to supporting progression through training and will continue to communicate with trainees and trainers in the weeks and months ahead. Remember too the key message from Dr David Evans, our Vice President for Training and Assessment; “Do not worry about your training!

...please feel no guilt whatsoever in taking extra time to take care of yourself and of your colleagues

In such testing times, it’s vital to remember that you, the staff of the NHS, are its most precious resource, so please feel no guilt whatsoever in taking extra time to take care of yourself and of your colleagues at all grades. The College has also put together a number of wellbeing resources and blogs to support members during this time. Included is the fantastic ‘Covid-19 Handbook’ put together by the London School of Paediatrics, I’m a particular fan of the ‘Thinking About Our Bellies’ section.

I want to finish by sharing something with you. In many of our interactions as trainee representatives with leaders within the College and the wider NHS, a consistent message has been how impressed those leaders have been by the way that trainees have stepped up to the mark, demonstrating flexibility, professionalism and compassion to tackle this pandemic together.

Thanks for giving us so many reasons to be proud of Team Paediatrics!