Redeployment considerations during the latest pandemic surge
7 January 2021
COVID-19 has led to a national lockdown in the New Year with increased infection rates putting immense pressure on frontline services which has meant the redeployment of ophthalmic staff, including ophthalmologists in training is already taking place.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists recognises that this is a necessary step to support the overall critical response to the current surge of the pandemic and the impact on the national health systems in all four nations. As in the first wave, ophthalmologists and those in training willingly stepped up to support colleagues who are continuing to do incredible work on the frontline.
The findings from redeployment in the first wave suggest a more considered and planned approach is likely to be more productive and can help minimise the impact on training.
Trainees and redeployment
We are recommending that Heads of School, Training Programme Directors and RCOphth College Tutors should be involved in the decision making about redeployment. We urge Deaneries and NHS Trusts to redeploy only where absolutely necessary and to consider whether partial redeployment can allow trainees to continue to learn and progress is practical. Where this is not possible, every effort must be made to ensure that time for dedicated ophthalmology teaching is retained and that regular contact with trainees is maintained to support their wellbeing.
Equally important in supporting trainees is to ensure that, any decision made on redeployment, is on an individual basis that accounts for a trainee’s specific situation and recognising that the following groups of trainees may be particularly disadvantaged:
- Within six months of CCT (to help ensure their training is not extended, so providing continuity in the ophthalmic workforce)
- Where an adverse outcome at ARCP especially if this was due to previous redeployment
- Vulnerable trainees with specific health concerns that require shielding
- Academic trainees who may have disruption to both research activities and already have reduced training opportunities
- Imminent examinations where the trainees’ preparation may be affected
The information and support we have provided during the first wave can be used as a continued resource for redeployment decisions and for supporting ophthalmologists in training. Other wellbeing resources can be found on the Health Education England website and the RCOphth website.
The RCOphth will continue to work with all those involved in training to restore and maximise training opportunities during this challenging time for everyone involved in delivering patient care during the pandemic. We wish to thank our members for their continued commitment to colleagues and patients and encourage everyone to take care and consider their well-being during this challenging time.
Bernie Chang, President
Fiona Spencer, Chair Training Committee
Sunil Mamtora, Chair Ophthalmologists in Training Group