Please help us to help future candidates and newly appointed trainees by commenting on the answers and suggesting further questions.


  • What is the relationship between my training location and my employer?

    NHS Bristol is the ‘host’ employer for the Public Health Training Programme. You are therefore subject to terms and conditions Agenda for Change: NHS Terms and Conditions of Service or Hospital Medical and Dental Staff and Doctors in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service (England and Wales) and subject to NHS Bristol Policies and Procedures, copies of which are available on the NHS Bristol website.

  • Where do I get holiday forms and travel and subsistence (t&s) forms?

    You will be issued with an Annual Leave forms by the Human Resources and Development Manager (HRDM) on commencement. Blank templates for future years are available under the Forms section. Travel and Subsistence forms on the Education and Training Website.

  • Who signs my travel and subsistence (t&s) and holiday forms?

    You must sign each claim. The declaration is an important part of your claim. You must have your claim authorised by your educational supervisor or current supervisor before returning it to the Programme Office. Claims must be submitted by the 20th of each must to ensure payment the following month.

  • Who do I speak to if I have a query about pay?

    You should contact the HRDM in the first instance, either by telephone or email, if the query cannot be answered you may need to contact McKesson, (the external pay provider). McKesson can be contacted on 01926 475586, you must request an SD reference number so that your query is logged.

  • Who do I speak to if I am sick?

    In the first instance contact your training location. Inform the HRDM by submitting a self-certificate for any sickness of up to and including 7 days and from the 8th day onwards you must forward fit notes, issued by your GP. The HRDM must be informed before the end of the month to ensure that sickness is recorded correctly in the monthly SVL, (a monthly attendance return that is submitted to payroll). The NHS Bristol policy for sickness absence can be found under the policies and procedures section on the website.

  • Is there a view on travel within the region?

    The geography of the south west region can make travel a challenge. Training events are always planned at locations within a reasonable walk or taxi journey from a train station. Trainees are encouraged to use public transport where practicable. If travelling by car, trainees are encouraged to share the journey with colleagues.

    Travelling and subsistence expenses incurred for the necessary extra costs as a result of official duties away from hone will be reimbursed in accordance with current Agenda for Change: NHS Terms and Conditions of Service.

  • Is there a list of all of the training locations in the South West?

    A list of the current training locations can be found on the Education and Training website. Training placements are approved by GMC.

  • How are training locations approved?

    Training locations must be approved by GMC and are quality assured by internal processes within the training programme. Quality panels are being introduced as part of this process. GMC carry out a cycle of visits to all Deaneries and specialities.

  • How do I contact other trainees?

    There are three principal ways of contacting other trainees using home and work-based computers.


    The South West Public Health Training Co-coordinator, will from time to time contact you via e-mail with the e-mail addresses of your fellow trainees displayed in the address bar. By using the “Reply to all” feature of your e-mail programme you can contact them all.

    E-mail communications from the Training Co-coordinator will normally be used when a response is requested. For most other e-mail communications our own mail list, SWPH-EDUCATION has some useful extra features, which are described below.


    A mail list is based on a continually updated list of the names and e-mail addresses of colleagues who wish to use email to communicate with each other. SWPH-EDUCATION may be used to discuss work with other members, share news, collaborate on projects and publications, announce conferences, arrange meetings or just to keep in touch. All contributions are held in a password-protected searchable archive.

    All trainees are automatically signed up to the mail list. Further information can be found on the MailTalk website.


  • What is an NTN? Do all trainees have them?

    All trainees hold a National Training Number that is unique to them. The total stock of NTN’s is allocated from a central pool to each Deanery nationally. The Deanery then reports back annually to the Department of Health to verify the stock. Your NTN will end in a C or a T depending if your background is medical or not.

  • What is the Deanery?

    The Deanery looks after the Postgraduate Education of doctors in the region and includes all Public Health Specialty Registrars. In the South West there are two Deaneries – Severn Deanery and South West Peninsula Deanery. Public Health is administered by the Severn Deanery only.

  • What is the Deanery’s involvement with my training?

    The Deanery will keep a record of your training and yearly assessments. It is extremely important that you advise them to any changes in your circumstances that may have an impact on your training.

  • Do I have to enrol with the FPH?

    All trainees who enter higher specialist training programmes in public health are required to enrol with the Faculty within three months of appointment in order to qualify for a CCT in the specialty of public health medicine, or to register as a Generalist Specialist with the Voluntary Register for Public Health Specialists. The enrolment process enables the Faculty to oversee and monitor the progress of trainees throughout their training and maintain national standards of training by ensuring the excellence of the training provided in programmes. It is not possible to enrol for higher medical training from a locum or temporary appointment, irrespective of grade.

    Application forms for enrolment can be downloaded from the Faculty website

    Applications should be accompanied by a full Curriculum Vitae and a signed copy of Form R. The applications should be countersigned by the Faculty Adviser or Training Programme Director, who will check for accuracy and also for appropriateness for the total training programme of that trainee. Completed forms and supporting documents should then be returned to the Faculty Education office.


  • What is ARCP?

    Annual Review of Competence Progression

    A process by which a panel meets to consider and approve evidence submitted by each trainee and will judge the trainee’s suitability for progression.

  • What is RITA?

    RITA is the annual review process for trainees who joined the training programme before August 2007

  • What is a portfolio?

    A portfolio is a record of evidence.

    The Public Health Training Scheme has it own very specific portfolio which can be found on the Faculty of Public Health Website. The e-portfolio was introduced in 2009 for use by all StRs. Please see the Faculty Training Portfolio section of the website. 

  • What does the Faculty Adviser do?

    The Faculty Adviser, who is a Member or Fellow of the Faculty holding a consultant level post, is elected by Faculty members in his/her region for a three year period, which can be extended by one or two years on further election. The role is to promote and maintain high standards of professional competence and performance of public health across the 10 key competency areas.

    Thus the Faculty Adviser has a role in approving all job descriptions for Specialist and Consultant posts before they are advertised, sits on ARCP/ RITA panels in the region, sits on all appointment committees for entrants to the StR programme in the region. S/he is also available to give individual advice & help to all trainees and other colleagues.

    Full details of the role specification can be found on the Faculty website.


  • What is a CCT and does this change if I take time off for sickness/maternity-paternity/ change to part time working?

    In simple terms, the CCT date is the date at which each StR is expected to have completed their training and to be issued with the appropriate forms to be eligible to apply for, and take up, Consultant/Specialist posts. A date is given at the start of the training and is usually 60 (full time) calendar months hence, on the assumption a MPH course will be taken. If a MPH course is not required then the CCT date may be set as 48 (full time) calendar months ahead. If satisfactory progress is not being made then an extension of a CCT date may be recommended.

    If a trainee changes to part time working then the CCT extends pro rata (for example a trainee reducing to half time hours when only 12 months away from their CCT date would have their CCT date extended by 6 months thus 66 months from their original start date).

    A trainee is allowed a maximum absence on maternity_paternity leave/sick leave of 3 months without the CCT date being affected. Any sick leave or maternity_paternity leave in excess of this will cause a pro rata extension of the CCT date. (Please note there is not a second 3 month CCT allowance in respect of a subsequent pregnancy!).

    It is important to note, that irrespective of the time calculations shown above, a ARCP/RITA panel will not issue the relevant CCT paperwork without evidence of a full sign off of the Portfolio and completion of all relevant Faculty exams.


  • What is my academic supervisor for?

    Each trainee is allocated an academic supervisor. Your academic supervisor will be working in a university department in the University of Bristol, University of West England (UWE) or the Peninsula Medical School (PMS). Your supervisor will make contact with you soon after you start the scheme and will arrange a meeting within the first month of your starting work on the training scheme. There is an introductory day that explains the role of academic supervisors and academic training opportunities within the training programme. This is held in the Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol once a year in the first 1-2 months of most trainees beginning on the scheme. In brief academic supervisors provide the following:

    1. Together with your educational supervisor provide advice and support for major pieces of work undertaken during training.
    2. Together with the educational supervisor ensure that all learning outcomes (LOs), in particular the academic LOs, are met over the course of your training
    3. Provide support for trainees taking Part A examination e.g. marking practice questions
    4. Provide support for trainees preparing for OSPHES
    5. Advise on training opportunities in academic public health
    6. PhD supervision for trainees who become lecturers / academic trainees
    7. Support with writing papers for peer review in journals or at conference presentations

    In general we would like each trainee to meet face to face with their academic supervisor on at least 2 occasions per year (this is the minimum) preferably at least one of these will be a three way meeting with the educational supervisor, trainee and academic supervisor.  However geography may sometimes inhibit this.  In such cases, good quality communications needs to reflect the meeting to insure alignment. It is the responsibility of the trainee to arrange the 3-way meetings and keep in contact.


  • What is DFPH?

    The DFPH Diplomate Membership of Faculty of Public Health is an exam which all trainees must pass if they are to complete their training and gain their CCT.  Trainees are expected to sit this exam in June following their entrance onto the programme, unless an earlier date has been agreed.  The MSc in Public Health provides the knowledge for this exam. 

  • Who will give me advice about which modules to take during MPH?

    Educational and Academic supervisors will give advice on the most useful modules to help you with DFPH examinations.

  • What is MFPH?

    The MFPH is the second exam taken during the training programme. Trainees will take MFPH six/nine months after passing DFPH.  Candidates are taken through a scripted "Standardised Public Health Scenario" during which they will be expected to act as if they were in a real life situation with one or more individuals playing other roles.


  • What is a mentor?

    The word mentor comes from Homer, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus and adviser to his son. Its usage in the Health Service has subtle variations from a more senior and experienced colleague who acts as an advisor to the more formal teaching and tutoring role. Usually mentors are slightly outside the formal structures of the organisations to enable more impartial support to be provided.

  • Do I have a mentor?

    A formal mentoring arrangement does not exist on the training scheme however you may wish to identify someone more senior and experienced to whom you can turn to for advice if necessary.  However this role should not replace the on going working relationship with your trainer.

  • How do I get IT support?

    Your first port of call for IT support will be the IT or IM&T department at your training location. They will have the expert knowledge of local systems and software and be able to handle all queries in relation to your everyday software. You will receive your laptop from them and they will configured it for use on the local network. It is worth investing in developing good links with one or two IT professionals within your training location as this will make things much easier if you do have problems subsequently.

    If you are using more advanced software (STATA or SPSS etc) then you probably already know where to access support. Canynge Hall offers a ‘student package’ on STATA which includes software, on-line support and updates and is available to buy at a reasonable cost.

  • How do I get IT training?

    Most training locations offer training to a fairly advanced level in use of the everyday software packages such as Word and Excel, Outlook (or alternative e-mail systems), Powerpoint and the like. If you are a complete IT novice then it is worth investing in the introductory courses as this will save much time and frustration otherwise you will probably learn as you go along. Training locations may have access to training for the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) – which is a self directed learning programme that aims to make you proficient at a basic level in IT skills. It involves up to 80 hours training (for a complete novice) in a modular format and leads to a widely recognised qualification (ECDL) on successful completion of the examination. More details from the ECDL website


  • Who is my buddy?

    Your ‘buddy’ is a more senior StR who has agreed to provide you with advice and support should you wish it. The relationship is there to augment the support offered by your trainer, other colleagues and learning sets. It is up to you and your buddy to agree how your relationship will work out but most buddies are happy to be contacted about anything and can provide useful insight into how to get things done. Having a buddy doesn’t preclude you from contacting any of the other StRs should you wish to – your buddy is there to ensure that there should always be someone that you feel comfortable about approaching with questions.

  • What is a learning set?

    The purposes of learning sets are to:

    • share information about projects / areas of work being undertaken;
    • use the group to work through work-related challenges.

    There are a number of learning sets across the south west area which have been set up by StRs. A StR can attend whichever learning set is most convenient for them, but consistent membership is crucial. They are not compulsory but can be a very useful way to share information and solutions.

    Although each participant will have allocated time and it is up to them how they use it, meetings tend to focus on specific projects or topics for group discussion:

    • Project based: each member to discuss a project / piece of work identifying specific challenges for discussion where appropriate
    • Topic based: the group in advance of the meeting identifies a common topic of interest for discussion at the following meeting.

    Please contact the Programme Co-ordinator for information on the learning sets currently running and their nominated contact person. The Programme Co-ordinator does not organise the learning sets but is the point of contact for consistency.


  • What does the Training Programme Director (TPD) do?

    The TPD directs and manages the Public Health Specialist Training Programme and other aspects of specialist Public Health training. The Training Programme Director works in conjunction with the South West Public Health Training Committee, which sets the overall strategic direction for the Training Programme. The TPD also has responsibilities for fulfilling Deanery requirements such as the ARCP process and reporting on training numbers.

  • What is the training committee and who sits on it?

    The training committee oversees the establishment, implementation and monitoring of a comprehensive approach to public health training and continuing professional development in the South West, including the running and oversight of the regional training programme for public health specialists in the South West.

    The training committee is chaired by the Regional Director of Public Health and comprises a mix of people with involvement in public health training i.e. trainees, Training Programme Director, Faculty Adviser and supervisors from NHS, academic and health protection organisations.

  • Where does the funding come from for public health training?

    The Department of Health, locally managed within the Strategic Health Authority.