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Scotland Deanery

Home of medical and dental excellence

COVID-19 information and guidance as we receive it

Stewart Irvine, Medical Director & Deputy Chief Exec. - Letter: 04.06.21

5 June 2021

Dear Trainee / Trainer

As we move out of spring and into summer, we continue to chart our way through the COVID pandemic, and the disruption it has caused across society and our health and care system. The response and contribution of all health and care staff continues to be outstanding. As an education body, NES continues to make every effort to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on all aspects of education and training, working closely with Directors of Medical Education in Boards, with the Scottish Government and with the other Statutory Education Bodies, Royal Colleges and the GMC across the UK.

We recognise the stresses that doctors in training and their trainers have faced as they have navigated changed recruitment processes, and the challenges many have faced in the acquisition of competencies and passing professional examinations in order to progress their training.

We are aware too that many of you are tired, and that, while the pressures of Covid on our service have abated for now, the workload from other demands remains high. The Scotland Deanery and Health Board Directors of Medical Education remain in regular contact as we plot our course through these troubled waters. Above all, we wish to ensure that you consider your own wellbeing and that of your colleagues, and that we do what we can to support you in this. Resources are available if needed:


The Scotland Deanery will continue to forward relevant information to you and will post important documents and position statements on the COVID pages of the Scotland Deanery website:



The 4 UK Statutory Education bodies have agreed that the forthcoming August 2021 rotations should continue as planned. Many new doctors join our programmes in August, and this is seen as an important part of a trainee’s programme of learning. In very specific circumstances, local arrangements may be required but this will require approval of the Director of Medical Education, relevant Postgraduate Dean and any involved trainees.


Whilst some doctors in training have managed to progress normally through training, others have faced problems in gaining the necessary experience. This impact has affected some specialties more than others and has not been the same across the country.

NES has worked closely with the Statutory Education Bodies in the other devolved nations (HEE, HEIW, NIMDTA), the General Medical Council (GMC) and the UK Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (UK AoMRC) to agree principles that have been used to make changes to curricula and assessments in order to adapt to the pandemic, and to support progression wherever possible. All are agreed that patient safety is paramount, and that we must maintain standards – the CCT standard remains consistent. We are looking to assess competency not quantity, to assess whether outcomes are achieved not the time spent working in a particular area, and we need to maintain proportionality and support equity, diversity and inclusivity.

Many of you will currently be engaged in our annual review process (ARCP) and this will be a key piece of information in helping us decide, on an individual basis, where additional support may be needed, and where extensions to training might be required.


I earnestly hope that we have now reached the point where the need to redeploy staff is much less likely. However, the Postgraduate Deans and Directors of Medical Education have co-produced a framework document setting out the principles for any redeployment. This has proved hugely valuable in minimisimg the extent to which doctors in training have been redeployed to date and to mitigate the impact of trainee progression. Any decision regarding redeployment will take into account the principles outlined in the agreed framework.


While it is becoming increasingly clear that the roll out of the vaccination programme will see us getting through this pandemic, we remain determined to ensure that every trainee feels supported and valued. Please make sure that, if you have any concerns or queries, that you discuss these with your Educational Supervisor or Training Programme Director, or alternatively contact your DME Office or the Deanery.

Most importantly, keep safe, keep well and look out for each other. Together we will get through this, and we remain determined to ensure that all doctors in training will achieve everything they aspire to and more.

Stewart Irvine

Medical Director & Deputy Chief Executive

NHS Education for Scotland



This page was last updated on: 21.06.2021 at 09.44