Petition to the UKFPO to provide an additional NCA date for red list UKFP2021 applicants.

Petition to the UKFPO to provide an additional NCA date for red list UKFP2021 applicants.

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Rosamma Lenitte Thomas started this petition to UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) and

We, as candidates of the UK Foundation programme wish to petition the UKFPO to allow candidates in travel ban countries to be given a fair chance to sit for the National Clinical Assessment (NCA) in this current application cycle.

Applicants to the UK Foundation Programme who are in travel ban countries, where visit visas are currently not being issued for entrance into the UK are at risk of being withdrawn from the UK Foundation programme application cycle. Stage 2 of the NCA has been set for May 25 to 27 in Manchester. The UKFPO has indicated that applicants in these countries will be withdrawn if they fail to attend on these dates, despite the prevailing travel ban which is genuinely beyond candidates’ control.

The UKFPO sent communication advising that they will withdraw candidates and direct them to re-apply in next year’s application cycle. This suggestion however would have the following drawbacks:

1. Candidates would have deferred their careers for two years in total if they were to reapply for next year. Currently, for international applicants to the UK foundation programme, it takes a year to process one’s application. Deferral to next year would result in candidates having spent two years on a single application.
2. Directing applicants to re-apply next year would entail candidates having to re-sit the Situational Judgement Test despite having passed it this year and to potentially re-sit costly tests such as the IELTS which are pre-requisites for the UK Foundation programme application process. Therefore, directing applicants to reapply next year has a negative knock-on effect on other key parts of the UKFPO process in a candidates’ application.
3. There are no guarantees that the global circumstances will have changed by next year’s application cycle. Candidates may be disadvantaged again next year. We believe that a more proactive approach in view of this fast changing landscape with its potentially long term effects would be much more appropriate rather than simply dismissing candidates’ concerns and withdrawing them from the process.
4. A lot of time, planning and finances have been invested by candidates in preparing for the PLABs, SJT and National Clinical Assessment all in preparation for entry into this current year’s foundation programme. These cannot be gained back. We believe that it would be damaging for all these factors to be disregarded and for the candidates’ concerted efforts to go unrealized only to be re-done once again in the next application cycle.
5. Some of the candidates have been allocated to F1 posts and are in communication with their future employing trusts in preparation for F1. Withdrawing these candidates would lead to unfair forfeiture of these allocations which were made based on the UKFPO’s algorithm which takes into account one’s SJT and EPM scores.
6. We believe that all candidates deserve to be afforded equal opportunity to proceed with and complete their application, rather than be forcibly withdrawn without even having had a fair chance to sit for stage 2 of the NCA.

We recognize that the overarching aim of the NCA is to ensure patient safety, which we unreservedly believe in and advocate for. We have the following two-pronged potential resolution that we strongly call on the UKFPO to consider.

1. For the UKFPO to offer a reserve NCA date, during the voluntary shadowing period in the UK– specifically for applicants who fail to attend the assessment on May 25 to 27. A reserve/contingency date for candidates with extenuating circumstances is routinely made available for other UKFPO administered tests such as the SJT. We believe that it is a reasonable request to ask for the UKFPO to also offer a reserve date for this assessment.

2. To allow for candidates currently allocated to F1 posts (and those who will be allocated during reserve list allocations) to be sponsored for entry into the UK on the appropriate restriction-free visa for key health care workers – the Health and Care worker visa. Completion of both parts of the NCA is not a prerequisite to be eligible for a job offer given that offers are made based on the Situational Judgment Test and Educational Performance measure scores and these offers were made before stage 2 of the NCA.
Upon entry into the UK, these F1 allocated candidates would be able to attend stage 2 of the NCA freely and fairly before starting post.

It is important to highlight that the current travel restrictions apply for entry on a visit visa.There are NO restrictions on entry into the UK for health care workers on a “Health and Care Worker” Visa as we are proposing.

Supporting affected candidates in this endeavor will not have a negative impact on the outcomes of other candidates in the process, as the UKFPO has assured applicants that our colleagues currently on the reserve list will be allocated to posts as in previous years. With the unprecedented workforce challenges facing the NHS and shortages of adequate cover, we believe that approval of these adjustments would be a positive step taken by the UKFPO toward a better staffed system overall.
Further, in previous years, some candidates have been supported in starting F1 as late as October and going ahead with their training. This is to underscore that the proposed contingency date for the NCA is not too late when looked at in perspective.

We recognize and appreciate that the UKFPO does consider genuine concerns raised with regard to the recruitment process. A notable example is the successful petition by candidates who had been disqualified from the SJT to be allowed to re-sit the SJT after being faced with risk of being withdrawn from the process. We support the fair treatment of all candidates and sincerely hope that the same consideration is extended to candidates currently affected by the visit visa travel ban. We
strongly believe that It is ill advised to withdraw candidates from the process over genuine circumstances that unfairly disadvantage them yet reasonable practical potential solutions lie within reach.

Yours faithfully
UKFP Candidates.

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