Trainee Support Foundation Help Sheet

During training, you may find that you need additional support because of problems in your personal life, health or performance as a doctor.  This help sheet has been drawn up to offer guidance to you if you are experiencing difficulties and point you to where you can find help. 

What should I do if I am experiencing difficulties?

If you are experiencing difficulties which are affecting your training, the most important thing to do is to seek appropriate advice as soon as possible.  This could be from your clinical or educational supervisor, foundation programme director, occupational health department, HR department, education centre, Health Education South West or the BMA.  If in doubt of who to contact, your Postgraduate Centre Manager is a useful person to contact in the first instance.

The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other people you would wish to seek support from.  Remember that under the GMC’s Good Medical Practice you have a duty to protect patient safety and maintain the highest possible standards and so it is part of your obligation under this to seek advice to ensure that problems do not escalate.

What sort of help does Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education offer?

As well as support for remedial and extended clinical training which, if required, would still be offered in the workplace by one of the Trusts, the organisation also has a number of other services accessible to trainees should they require them, including: 

  • A confidential counselling service
  • A mentoring scheme
  • A coaching scheme
  • A comprehensive careers service 

You can find more details of all of these on the website.  In particular, the careers service has a “well being” section on the website including a survival guide and links to further support networks.  

I have been informed by my supervisor that there are problems I need to address.  What happens now?

Anyone supervising or supporting a doctor through training has an obligation to highlight to them in a timely fashion any issues that need to be addressed. We all recognise that it can be difficult to receive negative feedback but try to be receptive to the comments and work with your supervisor to identify what the particular problems are, what needs to change and how you can demonstrate improvement. 

The document Supporting professional performance: Managing trainees in difficulty outlines the approach to supporting you in such situations. Hopefully, with the right support, you can work with your supervisors and other colleagues to work through the issues and meet your targets.

I have been informed that I will not be signed off at F1 or F2 level. What happens now?

There is a variety of reasons why trainees may not be able to complete a year of their foundation training in the timeframe anticipated and your case will be considered by the Foundation School on an individual basis – in particular, whether you would benefit from an extension.

If you find yourself in this situation because you are considered not to have met the competences, you should have already had problems identified to you by a supervisor and have been working on ways to rectify the issues.  You may have been anticipating or fearing the news that you won’t be signed off but it can still come as a shock. The important thing is not to panic but focus on how you can get the support you need and what you need to do to satisfy the sign-off criteria.

A meeting will be arranged for you and your foundation programme director with the Head of the Foundation School or Postgraduate Dean to discuss the issues and draw up, collaboratively, an action plan with specific targets to help get you back on track. This action plan will be unique to you and may have several different components to it. 

My F1 training has been extended.  What happens now?

If you have been recruited through the national process you are guaranteed a two year programme, assuming successful completion of F1.  If you are offered an extension, the length of the extension will depend on the reasons why it is required. For example, if you have missed training because of a broken leg, then your training might be extended only by the excess of leave you have needed.  However, if you have unsatisfactory supervision reports, then this could mean an extension of 4 months, 8 months or a whole F1 year before moving to an F2 post.  Your own case would be looked at on an individual basis and any decision made would be made clear to you.  The implications of an F1 extension on the timing of your F2 year would also be discussed with you.

I have been informed that I will not be signed off for my F1 or F2 year but I do not agree with this decision.  What can I do?

If you think that the sign-off process or procedure has been followed in your case, you have the right to appeal the decision by following the Peninsula Foundation School appeals process.  A copy of this is on the website. Please note that there are time restrictions on when you can lodge an appeal and these need to be adhered to.