COVID-19: Guidance on Protected Educational Time for HSTs

COVID-19: Guidance on Protected Educational Time for HSTs

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses and further information becomes available, the College will be constantly providing new information to ensure the health and safety of our members and staff while promoting best practice at this trying time for the medical community. Click here for an evolving list of information by the College for all members and staff.

Postgraduate Training

This section provides information and help to those qualified doctors seeking to undertake specialist training in psychiatry, medical students and doctors in training considering it and for the general public.

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (CPsychI) is responsible for all aspects of postgraduate training in psychiatry in Ireland. It aims to provide the best possible training for qualified doctors at both basic and higher ‘Specialist’ level in psychiatry.

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Contacts for Postgraduate Training

Kellie Myers
Senior Manager, PGT Operations

Kevin Costello
Continuous Assessment Manager

Yomna Khalil
Accreditation Administrator

Fiona Halsberghe-Murphy
Continuous Assessment Administrator

Emma Lindsay
Courses and E-Learning Co-ordinator

Iryna Pariyarath
Trainee Committee & Courses Administrator

Protected educational time for HSTs is described in CPsychI Regulations (pages 20-21).

The Regulations describe how the contractual provisions for Protected Educational Time, agreed in the context of European Working Time Directive, apply to our trainees in Psychiatry according to their stage of training.

This has particular relevance to HSTs during the current crisis, given the relative seniority of Senior Registrars in clinical services and the fact that considerable Protected Educational Time is incorporated into their normal working week. Senior Registrars may be concerned about meeting their training requirements at present, while clinical services may need them to help in coping with the current clinical priorities. While final year HSTs may be asked to ‘act up’ if needed, questions may also arise regarding HSTs’ Protected Educational Time even when not acting up. The following guidance is aimed at assisting Senior Registrars and their Supervisors during the COVID 19 pandemic in particular.

In general:

  • Protected Educational Time has a specific role and function in training and associated portfolio items should continue to be submitted, where possible.
  • The Educational Supervisor has a key role in any changes to the HST’s educational activities carried out in Protected Educational Time.
  • The HST Mentor is also able to advise and support the HST in this regard.
  • In extenuating circumstances, CDs/ ECDs may request that Senior Registrars contribute to the provision of urgent clinical service needs but should also consider, in conjunction with the Educational Supervisor, the most appropriate clinical activities which Senior Registrars should engage in.
  • It is expected that any changes to training activities carried out during Protected Educational Time should only occur on a temporary basis during the current COVID 19 pandemic.

Category D Protected Educational Time protects 1 day per week for Research for both CAP and Adult HSTs. In the current crisis, we are aware that it may be difficult for some Senior Registrars, depending on the type and stage of their research, to work on their research plans. We advise that each HST discusses the feasibility of their research, in the current circumstances, with their Research Supervisor. In some instances (for example, if writing up a thesis for a deadline) this may be possible and important to continue, while in others (for example, if collecting data from patients) it will be necessary to suspend the research project for a period. If it is appropriate for a Senior Registrar to temporarily suspend their research, we would suggest that they discuss how best to use their time with their Educational Supervisor and HST Mentor. It may be possible for HSTs to carry out useful small projects or use their research skills for the benefit of services and patients. For example, it may be helpful to carry out a service development or initiative, literature reviews, develop new protocols or other work which may also be suitable for presentation or publication at a later point. We ask that HSTs submit evidence to document their activities, whether relating to their planned research or not, so that these may be taken into consideration by an ARP panel as appropriate.

Categories B and C Protected Educational Time are intended to protect in-house educational activities (including 1:1 educational supervision and local academic programmes) and special skills acquisition, including non-clinical skills like management and leadership. For Adult HST these have traditionally included special interest sessions. Some of these activities will be possible, and indeed important, to continue. In particular, the importance of reflective practice and 1:1 supervision with the Educational Supervisor must be emphasised at this time. However, in some instances, Senior Registrars may find that it is not possible to continue all of their planned educational activities at present. We would advise that each HST discusses with their Educational Supervisor how they might best use this time for the benefit of their training, patients and clinical services. Even in the current climate, there should be opportunities to learn from working in different aspects of the local service or in different ways or indeed to assist in leading change. Local services may welcome the involvement of a Senior Registrar in certain initiatives, for example, developing new systems to triage and assess patients by distance. Tutors may need assistance in developing appropriate training to BSTs, using suitable technology.

Temporary changes to the HST’s annual training plan should be agreed with their Educational Supervisor. We would advise that HSTs submit evidence of such activities and any temporary alterations to the Annual Training Plan, as appropriate, so that they may be taken into consideration by ARP panels in future.

Note: If a HST’s Educational Supervisor is on extended leave during the COVID 19 pandemic, documents co-signed by another Educational Supervisor will be acceptable. To check if a particular Consultant is a CPsychI Educational Supervisor, please contact

If you have any queries regarding Protected Educational Time or related portfolio items, please contact your HST Mentor for advice or email