Interdeanery transfer: what junior doctors need to know
Authors: Shahbaz Shafi Malik, Yasmin Akram
Publication date: 25 May 2012
Shahbaz Malik and Yasmin Akram walk through the process with deanery staff from around the country: Elizabeth Hughes, Bill Reid, and Aidan Wafer
Trainees may wish to transfer from their current to another deanery for several reasons, and the interdeanery transfer (IDT) process allows them to do this while retaining their place on a training programme (box 1). Bill Reid, postgraduate dean for South East Scotland Deanery, explains, “It is important that IDTs . . . reflect a genuine change in circumstance that was not present when the person applied for or took up the post.”
In addition to appropriate circumstances for transfer, trainees will need to show adequate progress in their most recent assessments, usually through the record of in-training assessment (RITA) or the annual review of competence progression (ARCP).
Box 1: Criteria used in conjunction with interdeanery transfer
Criteria for rejection
No relevant change in circumstances
Criteria for consideration
Significant life events
Responsibilities for caring for others
Committed relationship, particularly marriage or civil partnership
Other relationships, including the importance of support networks
Other points for consideration
Length of rotation
Effects on the wellbeing of the individual
Having to accept a partner’s change of location where the partner has no real choice in changing the length or location of his or her employment
The latest postgraduate training “Gold Guide” states, “Whilst it is possible for trainees to move between deaneries (inter-deanery transfers) there is no automatic entitlement or right for this to take place. Trainees will be expected to show they have well-founded reasons for wishing to move.”
Elizabeth Hughes, postgraduate dean for West Midlands Deanery, explains that the interdeanery transfer system was originally set up for doctors who had unanticipated exceptional circumstances that would require a change in deanery to allow them to continue training. In recent years, however, there seem to have been unrealistic expectations of the process.
“Those applying for jobs need to consider what is most important to them, whether it is specialty or location. They need to understand the logistics and potential effects on family life at the time of the application and certainly before accepting a training scheme. Anticipated circumstances are not sufficient or appropriate grounds for transfer utilising the IDT process.” Trainees should not expect that the IDT process will be automatically available.
Aidan Wafer, head of the postgraduate medical and dental education team for West Midlands Deanery, adds, “The London factor [trainees from London who have accepted posts in a deanery outside the capital] will continue to be an issue for transfer panels. Of course, there will always be personal issues that require a return home, but often on reviewing the paperwork we find that a doctor wanted to work in London and has not been able to secure a job there via the recruitment process. They see the IDTs as a route for return, which it is not.”
Reid says, “The other issue that people do not understand about the process is that it is about transferring into a deanery and that this will not be to a specific location. For example, the East of England is not just Cambridge—it stretches as far north as the top of Norfolk. Although the deanery will try to be accommodating, you may end up on the periphery of the region, especially in small specialties.”
It is important for trainees to understand that without an adequate reason for transfer the only way they can work in a different deanery is through applying in open competition for a place. The same applies for those wishing to change to a different specialty; IDT is not appropriate for this.
In addition, IDTs are not permitted for educational or training reasons, for secondments to other deaneries, for doing research in a different deanery, or for rotations between deaneries as part of a planned training programme; there are other processes in place for such events.
Transfers are not usually considered until a doctor has been in his or her current training scheme for at least six months, and they do not usually take place until the trainee has been in post for at least one year. In highly exceptional circumstances fast transfer can be arranged by agreement between the respective postgraduate deans but only in the event of a catastrophic personal incident.
Trainees should discuss their wish to transfer with their educational supervisors and then ask their current deanery for an IDT form. This will then be considered by the current deanery.
Wafer advises, “Doctors applying for an IDT should take care to link their comments to the criteria with full details. Often, applicants think that several issues are likely to be seen as more favourable, when frequently that clouds the issue rather than strengthening their application—remember, less can be more.”
If the transfer is agreed, the form will be forwarded to the receiving deanery. Incoming panels will meet twice a year during transfer windows in March and October to allow adequate time for trainees to give at least three months’ notice in their current jobs to take up posts beginning in August and February, respectively. However, individuals should aim to give their current postgraduate dean as much notice as possible about their intention to apply for a transfer. Specific details for the current process and timetables can be found on deaneries’ websites.
These transfer arrangements apply to those in full time training posts and also to those in less than full time training posts. Doctors who request an IDT while they are pregnant, or on maternity leave, or are out of programme should apply in the window that is closest to their anticipated date of return to work.
In the case of refusal of transfer by either the current or receiving deanery the individual has 10 working days to appeal in writing to the postgraduate dean of the relevant deanery stating his or her reasons. Wafer notes, “Often very personal health issues will only be released to the panel during the appeal process when the applicant is desperate and often this is not detailed on the original form. It is helpful to have all the details on the original application form so that the appropriate decision can be made.”
Hughes emphasises, “The IDT is a discretionary process, not a right, and there is a national process. Do not make contact with the training programme director of the receiving deanery—it is inappropriate, and besides even if there are vacancies in the deanery this does not guarantee a job, since some are being used for recruitment.
“With decreasing [numbers of] specialty posts the potential for moving has also significantly decreased. In terms of recruitment, deaneries must keep a balance between their own trainees who want to progress in the specialty and stay in the region and trainees from elsewhere wanting to transfer in.”
Reid echoes this: “It has to be remembered that the acceptance of an IDT into a deanery denies the opportunity of that training programme to someone else.”
A key point to note is that even if the application is successful (box 2), actual transfer depends on the availability of a vacancy in the receiving deanery, and if none is available the transfer doesn’t go ahead and the case is closed. The applicant can retry for the next transfer window.
Box 2: Case examples of successful and unsuccessful transfer
Sarah and her husband, Raj, have both been working in the Yorkshire and Humber Deanery. She is a paediatric specialty trainee 3, and he is a trauma and orthopaedics specialty trainee 5. He succeeds in getting a job as a consultant, but it is in the West Midlands. Her application for transfer to the West Midlands is successful, although she gets a job in Dudley rather than in Birmingham, her preference.
Tony worked in Oxford during his foundation years and bought a house there. He accepts and takes up a job in core medical training in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Deanery, knowing that he will be placed in Brighton. He then applies for transfer back to Oxford, stating that the regular commute is too much. His application is rejected: he has not been in post long enough, and his circumstances have not changed.
Hughes advises those considering applying for an IDT: “We are happy to consider well founded unexpected circumstances. Make sure you read and understand all the paperwork, complete it correctly, and fully explain your reasons for wishing to transfer. Also, be familiar with the geography of the deanery you are applying to so you have realistic expectations if the transfer is successful.”
Competing interests: None declared.
- NHS. A reference guide for postgraduate specialty training in the UK (the “Gold Guide 2010”). www.mmc.nhs.uk/pdf/Gold%20Guide%202010%20Fourth%20Edition%20v08.pdf.
Shahbaz Shafi Malik ST2, trauma and orthopaedics
Yasmin Akram ST1, public health West Midlands Deanery, UK
- LONDON DEANERY SUBSPECIALTY TRAINING (ST6) ADVANCED PAIN MEDICINE
- THE YORKSHIRE AND HUMBER POSTGRADUATE DEANERY Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber ST4/5/6 INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGY
- SOUTH EASTERN HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE TRUST Ulster Hospital LOCUM APPOINTMENT FOR TRAINING (ST3 +) PAEDIATRICS
- ALL WALES SPECIALTY TRAINING PROGRAMME LOCUM APPOINTMENT FOR TRAINING (LAT) ST3 Level INTENSIVE CARE MEDICINE
- Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency Clinical Genetics LAT3 Ophthalmology LAT1