COVID-19: medical students requested to work in Northern Ireland

Guidance for medical students in Northern Ireland offered contracts of employment in the NHS due to COVID-19, what it means for you and what you need to look out for in your contract.

Location: Northern Ireland
Audience: Medical students
Updated: Monday 25 January 2021
This guidance is currently under review

The GMC has agreed principles for early graduation of medical students for all four nations. Importantly, each national government and statutory education bodies must ask the GMC to enable early provisional registration.


I am a final year medical student and eligible for early graduation – what does this mean for me?

There is no obligation to work in the health and social care service (HSC) in Northern Ireland as a result of this early provisional registration. Students must choose to take this up early and cannot be compelled to work in the HSC as a result of this. You can also withdraw from this at any time if you change your mind. More information will come via the GMC and your medical school, and the BMA will share more information as it hears it.


Do I have to complete my assistantship?

No, QUB final year medical students completed their assistantships on 3 April 2020.


What happens after I complete my assistantship?

The GMC will grant provisional registration to final year medical students, if requested, once they have completed their medical course, their medical school is satisfied they have met all necessary competencies and outcomes of the course and graduated them.

If final year medical students do choose to enter the workforce via this route, they will be doing so on F1 locum appointment for training (LAT) contracts under the 2002 junior doctor contract.

The BMA has been clear that these posts must have the same induction, education and supervision that would be expected of any other foundation place, and the GMC also requires this.

These posts will be on a fixed term contract (exact length to be confirmed) before you would normally have joined the foundation programme. You will be paid on the relevant junior doctor pay scale for each nation. Please see details of the current junior doctor pay scales in Northern Ireland.

At this stage, those who choose to enter these LAT posts will do so in the trusts where they have been on placement. There may be circumstances in which you may be able to eligible to work elsewhere, but this would be with the agreement of your medical school, and further details about this is not yet forthcoming.

There are substantial benefits to you as a medical student, the HSC and medical schools by keeping you in your current hospital placement and in familiar environments. You will be familiar with employers’ processes and will still be able to access QUB medical school so you can access additional support should you need it.


When will I start work as an FiY1?

We have been advised by QUB that you will start work in early May, exact date to be confirmed. This post will run until August 2020 when the normal F1 post will commence. QUB has advised that allowances will be made for those students moving to F1 posts in other countries/nations but you will need to discuss this with the medical school.


What about training, induction and PPE for an FiY1 role?

If you accept an interim FiY1 post, you should be given the training and induction appropriate to the role you will be carrying out. Where required, this must also include training in the correct use of PPE (personal protective equipment), which is particularly vital if you will be in contact with patients infected with the coronavirus.


What happens if I need to resit my finals?

Students who need to resit finals will first finish their Assistantship alongside their peers. Resit examinations will take place in May with the aim of offering provisional registration in June.


Band 3 medical student technician (3rd and 4th years)

Will these roles form part of my medical training?

These roles are not part of your medical training. You may learn new skills and improve some of your existing skills while working in these roles, but they do not form part of your training as a doctor.

Will I be able to perform the tasks required of me in these roles?

It is still important to ensure you work within your competencies and within those required for the role you are employed to do. You should be suitably supervised and have an appropriate period of training and induction to carry out the role.

Will I be asked to help out with FY1 tasks while working in these roles?

There may be slight overlap with these roles, but aside from a very strict and specific list of practical skills, you should not be asked to carry tasks typically done by FY1 doctors. You are not indemnified to work beyond the role you are employed for.

Even if you think you can do some of the tasks and that it will help you in preparation for starting as an FY1, you should not be doing tasks that someone employed in these roles would not usually do.

What about my pay and contract?

These roles should be offered at AfC (agenda for change) band 3 pay and your contract should be an AfC contract. You will work a maximum of 15 hours per-week and be accountable to the clinical director or operational director at the trust you are working in.

What about training, induction and PPE for these roles?

If you accept these roles you should be given the training and induction appropriate to the role you will be carrying out. Where required, this must also include training in the correct use of PPE (personal protective equipment), which is particularly vital if you will be in contact with patients infected with the corona virus.

This is the responsibility of the trust as your employer and should be similar to whatever measures are already in place for the rest of the health care staff there.


Band 3 senior nursing assistant roles (2nd year and above)

Medical students who are 2nd year and above are also being offered the opportunity to work alongside nursing teams by working bank shifts. They will receive weekly pay for any shifts worked.


Band 2 clinical support assistant (1st and 2nd year)

This role will be up to a maximum of 15 hours per week in the first instance, you can choose how much time you want to contribute and your contract will reflect standard TCS including working hours protection, pay arrangements, and annual leave entitlement.


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