Training - COVID-19 guidance for clinicians in Wales

We'll keep this page updated as new guidance is developed.

Additionally, Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) have published an activity log for trainees and trainers in Wales, alongside further information.

*This guidance is consistent with UK-wide RCPsych COVID-19 Guidance for clinicians with these additions:

  • Welsh signposting and referencing
  • Detail on additional, available support services for trainees provided through HEIW

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, the College has made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone all events until the end of May. This decision is under regular review. Read the full list of effected events. 

Plans are still underway for  International Congress 2020 from 29 June to 2 July 2020. 

We hope to hold the Trainees’ Conference the 2 and 3 September 2020 following advice on COVID-19. 

We recognise that this is a very anxious time for all and that keeping up with psychotherapy training requirements may feel like an additional burden for trainees at a time when they may be having to cope with looking after very unwell patients, as well as themselves and their families in a time of great uncertainty.

The following guidance has been drawn up in collaboration with the RCPsych Specialist Advisory Committee to provide some clarity and guidance to core psychiatry trainees, their clinical and educational supervisors, psychotherapy tutors, training programme directors, Directors of Medical Education and Heads of Schools.

Heads of Schools are fully aware of the current difficulties and are committed to ensuring that no trainee who was on track to meet their psychotherapy competencies prior to the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic in the UK in March 2020 will be held back from progression at ARCP.

We recommend that Psychotherapy Tutors are fully consulted on this aspect of training by educational supervisors and Training Programme Directors in order to make pragmatic and considered recommendations to ARCP panels.

Where a trainee has not completed a case they had already started but would otherwise have been on track to complete all psychotherapy competencies we recommend that they are awarded an outcome 6 if they are otherwise considered to have met all CT3 competencies. A comment should be made on the ARCP form to this reflect this.

Trainees who are in this situation and subsequently entering ST4 will be given the opportunity to undertake further psychotherapy training to ensure they have gained sufficient psychotherapy experience as recommended by the current curricula during the course of their training. We recommend that this is reviewed at their first ARCP during ST4.

In some situations it may be possible to continue working psychotherapeutically with patients where trainees have already started. In the situation where a trainee has already started working with a long or short term psychotherapy patient who has engaged in their psychotherapy this may be continued by phone or other suitable confidential video streaming platform where possible. Arrangements for this must be discussed and agreed with the clinical supervisor for the patient and have the agreement of the psychotherapy tutor.

The supervisor or psychotherapy tutor will be required to support the trainee in making adjustments to working over the phone or digitally and supervise adjusting clinically to the platform and also considering the governance as well as safeguarding aspects for both the patient and themselves.

The Medical Psychotherapy SAC will be circulating further written guidance about remote working with patients in due course.

Supervision is an essential part of psychotherapy training and this should be provided by phone or via digital video meetings including using digital group meetings e.g. using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or other suitable platforms provider by the local educational provider.

Where trainees have not yet started psychotherapy with a patient but were about to this should be postponed in discussion with the psychotherapy supervisor and psychotherapy tutor.

It is more important than ever during this time of great strain on communities and NHS services, that trainees continue to have the opportunity to discuss the emotional impact of their work and are able to explore all aspects of this in a safe and contained setting using group video streaming platforms to host Balint groups and Case Based Discussions. Directors of Medical Education and trainees are asked to prioritise this aspect of their training and make every effort to ensure that it continues to be supported by local educational providers.

So to summarise:

  • Where a trainee has not completed a case they had already started but would otherwise have been on track to complete all psychotherapy competencies we recommend that they are awarded an outcome 6 where all other core competencies are considered to have been met.
  • In the situation where a trainee has already started working with a long or short term psychotherapy patient who has engaged in their psychotherapy this should be continued by phone or other suitable confidential video streaming platform where possible.
  • Supervision is an essential part of psychotherapy training and this should be provided by phone or via digital video meetings.
  • It is more important than ever that trainees continue to have the opportunity to discuss the emotional impact of their work and are able to explore all aspects of this in a safe and contained setting using group video streaming platforms to host Balint groups and Case Based Discussions wherever possible

The College has cancelled the Paper B examinations on 31 March 2020 across all centres. Please read the full statement from our President, Professor Wendy Burn, We are working quickly to determine whether the Paper A sitting scheduled for June can go ahead and what alternatives can be made for candidates ready to sit their exams.  

We are aware of the impact of the postponed of interviews and exams on trainees who are on MTI visas and we’re working urgently to see how these individuals can be supported. Please do get in touch with us if you are in this situation.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has set up a specific web page for COVID-19 related announcement where there is information regarding management of ARCPs, management of rotations and exams.

Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) also have specific information and guidance on their website for trainees as do the General Medical Council.

The GMC have extended the deadline for the submission of curricula and we have updated our information about the curricula review.

The current round of interviews have been postponed. We understand from our colleagues at Health Education North West (HENW) who manage the recruitment process across the UK that efforts are underway to deliver an alternative selection process and all applicants will be advised of this in due course. Please visit the HEE website where information is being updated daily.

Please read our message to applicants (PDF).

We understand that updating educational portfolios may not be easy or straightforward due to clinical pressures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some trainees may find it helpful to capture actions and work they have done to support the COVID response. However trainees’ progression in training will not be disadvantaged as a result of the impact of the pandemic and ARCP panels have been instructed to take the impact of the evolving situation this into account.
We understand that for some higher Forensic trainees that the response to COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation of attachments to secure units. We want to assure you that the lack of a secure unit placement will not delay a CCT. A secure placement is not an explicit requirement of the curriculum. Trainees should be able to demonstrate that they are able to demonstrate curriculum competencies of assessing patients in high security, that they can refer patients to high security from medium secure care or from prison, and that they have the necessary knowledge about the different levels of security, in terms of physical, procedural and relational security, to be able to effectively manage a patient’s care pathway. Supervisors reports, CBDs and other WPBAs, and reflective notes can all be used to evidence this.

We recognise it is currently very challenging to meet all the requirements of the curricula to ensure trainee progression. We are urgently looking at ensuring consistency for trainees with regard to the ARCP process, attaining Medical Psychotherapy competencies and how to manage Special Interest Sessions, along with many other issues trainees are facing at present.

Heads of School across the Devolved Nations are considering how education and teaching can be delivered more flexibly and virtual, for example via e-learning or virtual BALINT groups. We appreciate this might not be at the forefront of your mind, however, we are collating some of these resources and examples to be able to share with you shortly.

RCPsych Psychiatrists' Support Service (PSS)

Please do consider contacting the Psychiatrists' Support Service (PSS) for support if you feel you need it.  The PSS is a free, confidential support and advice service for psychiatrists at all stages of their career who find themselves in difficulty or in need of support. 

We recognise that this is an unprecedented experience for many of us and the PSS is developing specific guidance on supporting ourselves and each other.  We would encourage you to use the very skilled and well supported networks and organisations that are already in place for support, rather that set something up locally yourselves. 

HEIW Professional Support Unit (PSU)

Health Education and Improvement Wales operate this particular service, offering guidance and support to trainees throughout Wales. Contact details and further information can be found here.

We appreciate as we face the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that work place based assessments are unlikely to be able to be prioritised by trainees and trainers in demanding clinical situations where patient care is needing to take precedence.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic we strongly encourage trainees to continue to reflect on these new experiences as well as connect with peers through virtual Balint groups where possible. Supervision during these times remains very important. However, it is likely trainees will find it difficult to fulfil normal WPBA requirements. Trainees should be reassured that they will not be disadvantaged at ARCP if they cannot complete all the WPBAs usually expected

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry