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Questions for trainees on the HSST

Click on the tabs below for further information about the HSST. Please click on the question to reveal the answer.

Since delivery of the HSST is a joint undertaking between Trusts (who are the employers of trainees), MAHSE and the National School, the advice below is of an advisory nature.

Can the School provide me with a list of trainee names and contact details so I can contact them directly?

Unfortunately due to data protection issues we are unable to share trainee contact details. However we can circulate communications on your behalf and encourage fellow trainees to contact you directly. There are also healthcare science trainee networks across the UK and we would encourage you to contact them before establishing any other additional network forums.

Can the School do more to ensure employers are aware of the support required for the HSST?

When employers submit a request for a trainee via their local education office, they are made aware of the requirements to enable them to successfully support a trainee through the HSST. The support requirements are also emphasised further during the recruitment process and the employer is provided with written guidance.

What are the recommendations for protected study time for someone on the HSST?

The School recommends that before seeking to commission a HSST post the employer(s) risk assess and undertake to mitigate for the impact of the training programme on the department’s ability to provide the routine service. This should include a consideration of any HR, rota or staffing issues that may result from a trainee’s attendance at academic sessions or in other workplace environments in order to achieve the learning outcomes of the curriculum. The department undertakes that these risks will be managed appropriately.

The programme is bespoke and requires the employer to enter into a negotiated discussion and documented agreement between the trainee and their supervisor at the time of appointment of the trainee. The negotiated agreement must allow for significant protected time for the trainee to undertake the workplace and academic components of the HSST programme including the Postgraduate diploma, DClinSci, and for Life Science trainees, the FRCPath.

Employers should be aware that there is a particular intensity of residential and academic study that will take place in the early years of the programme. In later years these demands, which include a research and innovation project, are likely to become increasingly workplace orientated.

The School advises that employers facilitate at least an 80:20 split between routine workplace commitments and academic studies excluding the time spent attending residential sessions at the HEI or other time attending conferences or on placement outside the host laboratory. Specifically the School recommends that trainees should be allowed flexibility to utilise 52 days each year as a minimum for protected academic study.

The programme is challenging and trainees should be advised that there would be further additional work that will be required of them in their own personal time.

What arrangements are there for extended leave from the HSST programme?

The HSST programme was established as a full-time programme. Entry to the programme on a part-time basis is strongly discouraged due to the timelines for completion. However there are circumstances recognised where there may be a perceived need for a move to part-time working or a period of extended leave from the programme. In all cases it is necessary for the trainee to be aware of their local Trust employment policies and to initiate discussions with their employer, the local commissioner and the HEI who are the final arbiters of such arrangements.

HSST trainees who are considering submitting an application for either part-time working or for extended leave are also required to inform the School of this matter at the earliest opportunity.

Maternity leave

In the specific case of statutory maternity leave NHS employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave. Employing Trusts will have their own specific policies however in general these are governed by the standard NHS terms and conditions as described by NHS Employers.

The timing of maternity leave with respect to annual performance review, academic examinations and formal completion of the programme complicate the issue. The School will adjust the deadlines for completion of workplace-based assessments to take account of this proportionately.

HSST trainees seeking an allowance for any extended leave, including maternity leave, or part-time working are required to contact the School as soon as possible to discuss and agree an appropriate time line for completion of the programme. Furthermore, any planned leave from the programme, including maternity leave, will require a written review plan, written by the trainer with the trainee and submitted to the NSHCS/HEE local office to be signed off with agreed timelines to ensure any mitigation of risks are identified.

In summary all such arrangements require that trainees:

  • Seek agreement with their employer and HEE local office;
  • Need to be aware of and follow local Trust policies and procedures;
  • Contact the local HEE office to make arrangements for any changes (deferment) to the training allowance payments;
  • Agree with MAHSE in respect of completion of the academic components of the programme.

Please note that similar guidelines would be enacted for other forms of statutory leave e.g. paternity leave.

Is it possible to move between employers?

There have been examples recently of trainees requesting transfer of their training contract from their original employer to another, both within and outside the HEE Office that had originally commissioned the position. The situation is significantly more complex than that for STP, for which the School has formal procedures in place, as HSST posts are agreed as a local or wider (consortium, regional) workforce need within a current employers workforce plan. A distinction also needs to be drawn between those who have already embarked on the HSST programme and those yet to start but who have received an offer of appointment.

The School can help facilitate and advise on transfer arrangements but the agreement remains the responsibility of the trainee to negotiate between the employers, who provide salary and the commissioners, who provide the educational allowance. However it is clear that personal circumstances can change during a five-year training programme and that at times individuals may need to move from one location to another during the course of the programme. Note that in all cases of transfers the new training centre must meet the NSHCS standards and conditions of approval for HSST training. Also that no further places would be supported for the original organisation until any amounts due under the agreement had been paid in full.

Transfer within the local HEE office area

  • For a trainee yet to take up their HSST post and where the proposed trainee transfer is within the local HEE office domain it would be for the local HEE office to agree the transfer of the training allowance between employers within its area. Salary costs would be the responsibility of the actual employer. This would be a matter for agreement between both employers and the local HEE office and subject to consideration of local manpower planning and the impact of the local health economy. Where agreement can be reached then the designated location of the HSST training post would move to the new employer subject to a formal commitment by the new employer to undertake the training responsibilities and meet all associated local costs. Where agreement cannot be reached and a trainee chooses to continue with the transfer they would be deemed as declining the offered HSST post and the post to which they transfer would not be eligible for designation as a HSST training post at the time of the transfer.
  • Where a trainee has already commenced HSST training and been in post for a minimum of 12 months such a transfer is possible but requires agreement between both current and proposed employers and the HEE Local Office. Authorisation of the transfer requires that a formal commitment be given by the new employer to undertake the training responsibilities and all associated costs, which may additionally include the training allowance. Where an employer is unable to meet these requirements and the trainee chooses to continue with the transfer they would therefore be deemed as exiting the HSST scheme.

Transfer outside the local HEE office domain

  • Where a trainee has yet to take up their HSST post following an offer of appointment and applies for transfer of that training number outside the local HEE office domain then this will be denied. Funding of the HSST post is with the identified employer only and the training allowance is similarly allocated and restricted to the local HEE office domain. A trainee who chooses to continue with the transfer would therefore be deemed as declining the offered HSST post and the post to which they transfer would not be eligible for designation as a HSST training post at the time of the transfer. It would then be for the local commissioner and employer to consider whether the post, if In-Service, could mutate into a Direct Entry post.
  • Where a trainee has already commenced HSST training and been in post for a minimum of 12 months such a transfer may be possible but requires agreement between both current and proposed employers and also of both HEE local offices. Authorisation of the transfer requires a formal commitment be given by the new employer to undertake the training responsibilities and all associated costs including the training allowance. Where an employer is unable to meet these requirements and the trainee chooses to continue with the transfer they would therefore be deemed as exiting the HSST scheme.

If I move to another role can I continue on the training programme?

If you move to another role for professional advancement it is important that your new employer is aware of, and agreeable to, the continuing commitment and support required to ensure the training for HSST can be completed. You should also inform the School and your local education office of your role change; assurances that your new employer can offer a suitable training environment will also be required.