National Recruitment ST1 up to 90

Applicant Guidance

Health Education England (South West) will be co-ordinating the national selection to Specialty Training posts in Ophthalmology at Level One (ST1) for 2020.

Posts will be available across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and will be commencing from August 2020 onwards.

When applying you will not need to give preferences to particular posts, regions, rotations, etc. just complete and submit an application for the specialty. Should you subsequently be invited for interview, you will have the opportunity to indicate your preference for all the posts available nationally later in the selection process.  The interviews will be hosted at a single centre in Bristol and will take place on the 7th of February 2020.

Below is an outline of the selection process and click here to download a printable copy of the guidance.

Recruitment Timetable

The full recruitment timetable is available on this website under resources. 

click: Recruitment Timetable


When submitting an application, you will need to make sure that you meet all the eligibility criteria by the application closing date (or date of interview/start date if specifically stated). Eligibility requirements are those requirements listed as “Essential” in the person specification.

In order to assess if you have the required competences you will need to refer to the 2020 Person Specification. Further details about eligibility can also be found in the Applicant Handbook. A link to the specification and the handbook is below.

Link: ST1 Person Specification

Link: Applicant Handbook

Applying Online through the Oriel Recruitment System

All specialty training applications for 2020 will be managed through a national online application system called Oriel.

You will need to create an account (account registration) before you can apply to a vacancy. After registration, you will be able to apply and track the progress of your application.

Account registration is available from the home page of Oriel.  An applicant user guide that will assist you in using the system at each stage of the recruitment process is available from the link below.

Our primary method of communication during the recruitment process we will be to message candidates via Oriel and the messages will appear on your applicant dashboard.  We will also send the correspondence via email, however, delivery of emails cannot be guaranteed as they are being sent externally to Oriel and should not be relied upon.  At key points in the selection process we will also send a text message

To access Oriel to register and apply, please visit: https://www.oriel.nhs.uk/

Link:  Oriel Applicant User Guide

Completing an Application

Applications open at 10:00 am on the 7th of November 2019 and can be completed and submitted from this date.

The specialty of Ophthalmology can be selected from the vacancy list within Oriel.  The vacancy contains information which will assist you with your application.

To access the application form, select the “apply here” button within the vacancy.

Please complete the application fully as incomplete applications will not be accepted.  There are no white space questions within the application form and page 7 is intentionally blank.

When completing your application, we recommend that you do not opt out of receiving text messages as we will send a text message at key stages in the recruitment process.

Additional Evidence

You may also need to complete and submit additional evidence as part of your application form.  Please refer to sections 1 – 6 below to check if you need to submit additional evidence at time of application.

1. Evidence of Foundation Competence

For entry to ST1 specialty training all applicants are required to provide evidence of achievement of foundation competence within the 3½ years prior to the intended commencement date for the advertised posts.

This is essential to the progression of your application and the evidence should be uploaded to Oriel as part of your online application form.

  • Currently on a Foundation Programme:- Applicants currently undertaking a recognised foundation programme in the UK, which is due to finish in August 2020, will need to confirm the name of their Foundation School but do not need to submit any other evidence at the point of application.  You will be required to provide a Foundation Programme Certificate of Competence (FPCC) prior to commencing in the post. 
  • Already completed a Foundation Programme:- Applicants who have already completed a UK Foundation Programme will be asked to confirm that they have been awarded an FPCC or an FACD 5.2, signed no earlier than 3½ years prior to the advertised start date for the training programme.  A scanned copy of the FPCC or FACD 5.2 MUST be uploaded to the Oriel application.
  • Currently on a Specialty Training Programme:- Applicants currently in active clinical or clinical and academic practice in a UK educationally approved training post (CT/ST/LAT or equivalent), holding either a National Training Number (NTN) or Deanery Reference Number (DRN) will be considered as having had their foundation competences assessed on entry to their current post and do not need to demonstrate these again, regardless of when foundation competences were signed off. Applicants in this category, who relinquish their NTN or DRN between the time of application and commencement will be required to submit a Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training for the period out of training.
  • Previously resigned from the specialty of application:- Applicants who have previously resigned voluntarily from the specialty to which they are now reapplying will be considered as having had their foundation competences assessed previously, providing that they can demonstrate evidence of satisfactory progress in the form of ARCP documentation for the duration of the training undertaken.
  • Started but not completed Foundation Training:- Applicants who have started but who have not satisfactorily completed a 2 year UK Foundation Programme or a standalone UK Foundation Year 2 post are expected to return to the Foundation Programme to complete their training. In exceptional circumstances, where trainees were unable to continue their training in the Foundation Programme at that time, for example due to personal illness or family caring responsibility, applicants can provide a letter written and signed by the Postgraduate Dean where the previous training took place. This letter must use the standard proforma available from the Oriel resource bank and be uploaded to the application form.
  • Widening Access to Specialty Training (WAST):-  Applicants currently in a WAST post need to obtain a fully completed and signed Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training by the start date of the post to which they are applying. No further evidence needs to be provided at the time of application
  • If none of the above applies:-  Applicants who do not fall into any of the above categories will be required to submit a Certificate of Readiness to Enter Specialty Training signed by a consultant who has supervised them for at least 3 months (whole time equivalent and continuous period) in the 3½ years prior to the advertised start date for the training programme.  Applicants must not submit multiple Certificates, from different posts to show evidence of achievement of all competences; only one certificate should be submitted.  A scanned copy of the certificate MUST be uploaded to the Oriel application form.  Original document(s) will be requested at a later date.  It is essential that you refer to the “Evidence of Foundation Competence: Applicant Guide and Equivalence Form” within the Oriel Resource Bank.

2. Re-application to Specialty Training in Ophthalmology

This only applies to applicants reapplying for specialty training in Ophthalmology that have previously resigned or been removed from training. 

Applicants reapplying will need the support of their previous Head of School/Training Programme Director and Postgraduate Dean in order to reapply.

Applicants must ask their previous LETB/Deanery, Head of School/Training Programme Director and Postgraduate Dean to complete a “Support for Reapplication to a Specialty Training Programme Form”. This form is available to download from Oriel Resource Bank.

Applicants requiring this support are advised to start the process early as applications will not be considered without a fully completed and signed form.

The completed form should be emailed to Confidential.SW@hee.nhs.uk before the closing date of applications.

3. Re-application to Switch Deanery/LETB

Trainees currently working in the specialty, applying to continue their training in another region, without a break in service will be required to submit a "Support for Reapplication to Specialty Training in a Different Region form".  This form is available to download from the Oriel Resource Bank.

The completed form should be emailed to Confidential.SW@hee.nhs.uk before the closing date of applications.

4. Fitness to Practice

Applicants that have answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions in the fitness to practice section of the application form will need to submit a "Fitness to Practice Declaration Form" clearly defining the declaration.  The completed form can be accessed from the link below and should be emailed to Confidential.SW@hee.nhs.uk at time of application.

5.  Adjustments under the Equality Act 2010

As a national recruiter we are aware of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate requests provided these are made known in advance. Adjustments cannot be guaranteed if contact is made late and no adjustments can be made on the day of the assessment.  If you require specific arrangements or adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 please outline the adjustment on page 8 of the application form.

To corroborate your request, you MUST attach independent evidence of your condition and support needs (e.g. an Educational Psychologist report for Dyslexia, correspondence from a medical professional managing your condition) to your application form by time of submission. Please use the ‘Document Upload’ area in your Oriel portal to upload the information.

Nursing mothers are advised to contact us directly via sevrecruitment.sw@hee.nhs.uk for further advice regarding this requirement.

6.  Special Circumstances

A national process has been introduced to assist applicants who need to remain in a specific region for well-founded personal reasons allowing them to be offered a particular region, should they be successful at interview.

Who is eligible?  Applicants with either a personal medical condition or disability that requires them to remain in a particular region for ongoing care and treatment or applicants who have primary caring responsibilities for someone with a disability. 

Eligibility will be considered at the time of application and therefore applicants must ensure that they declare this on their application form and submit supporting evidence by email. 

Applicants should complete the special circumstances application form and forward this together with supporting evidence to mdrs.nationalrecruitment@hee.nhs.uk as soon as the application is submitted but no later than the 5th of December 2019.

Submitting an Application

Applications can be submitted until 4:00 pm (UK time) on the 28th of November 2019.  Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Only one application can be accepted and where multiple applications are submitted, only the first applicationsubmitted will be included in the process.

If you fail to provide the appropriate documentation your application will be longlisted out.

Note:  Alterations cannot be made to an application once it has been submitted.

Tip:  Remember to save and check your application and only press the submit button when you have carried out this process. This will ensure you are submitting the correct version of your application.


All applications will be checked for evidence of the essential criteria outlined in the person specification. Applications that do not demonstrate the criteria or fail to include additional evidence will not continue through the process.   Applicants will be notified if their application does not meet the essential criteria and has not been progressed to the next stage by the 18th of December 2019.  

Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment (MSRA)

All eligible applicants (i.e. those who have been assessed as demonstrating evidence of eligibility and progressed through the longlisting stage) will be invited to attend the MSRA.  Attendance at this test is mandatory for applicants to Ophthalmology in 2020 and candidates who fail to attend the test will be withdrawn from the selection process.

The test will be available to take from the 3rd to the 11th of January 2020 at Pearson Vue Centres. Invitations to book the test will be messaged through Oriel no later than the 17th of December 2019.  A text message will also be sent.

Other specialties will also be using the MSRA within their selection processes and candidates applying to a combination of the specialties will only be required to sit the test once.  

MSRA Assessment Centre Locations

The MSRA is delivered using computer-based testing methods which allow the assessment to be taken in a large number of Pearson Vue Computer Testing Centres throughout the whole of the UK.  There are also places available overseas for candidates that are outside of the UK at the time of the assessment.  

Useful information about the MSRA is available from the link below and details can also be found in the resources section, under the heading of Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment on the national recruitment website.

Link:  MRSA - Useful Information

Link:  MSRA - Content and Structure of the assessment


There will be no shortlisting within the ophthalmology selection process for 2020. Candidates will be required to achieve a minimum score in the MSRA to progress to interview.

Invitation to Selection Centre

Applicants will be notified of an invitation to interview via a message through Oriel and also a text message by no later than the 23rd of January 2020.  Interview slots will be available to book through Oriel.  The interview slots are booked on a first come first served basis.

A strict policy is in place that candidates should NOT stay in the hotel where the interviews are being held.  Candidates should NOT book overnight accommodation at the Mercure Holland House Hotel, Redcliffe Hill, Bristol on either the 5th or 6th of February 2020. 

Tip: Book an interview slot early to maximise choice.

The Selection Centre

The interview panel’s main aim is to find out how well you match the requirements of the person specification for the post for which you are applying, and to ensure that the best candidates are selected in this highly competitive process.

The interviews will be held at the Mercure Hotel, Redcliffe Hill, Bristol on the 7th of February 2020.  The process for each candidate from registration onwards may take up to 2 ½ hours. Further details will be published in the interview guidance on the national recruitment website.

Candidates attending the interviews will be asked to bring a paper portfolio of evidence.  The list of contents to be included within the portfolio is available in the resources section, within the national recruitment website.

Tip: We recommend you prepare your documentation as soon as possible.


As part of the national application process candidates will be asked to provide the names of three referees.  References will only be requested once applicants have accepted the offer of a training post.  The purpose of the reference is to confirm employment history and to highlight any concerns.

If no offer is made, or an offer is not accepted, referees will not be contacted.

Note: References will not be required at the interview.

Training Posts and Locations

Each Deanery/HEE local office has submitted their number of vacancies with a brief outline of the programme.  This information can be found on the national recruitment website under the heading of Job Description.  Also contained within this information is a local contact and a link to more detailed information.    The vacancies are correct at the point of advertisement but may be subject to change. All alterations to the vacancies will be published on the national recruitment website.

Expressing a preference - ‘where do you want to train?’

Candidates will be asked to rank the training locations in order of preference.  This process will be carried out within Oriel.  An automated message, containing instructions, will be sent to candidates on the 11th of February 2020. 

It is intended that the offers process will commence on the 26th of February 2020 and from 10:00 am the option to selection preferences will be temporarily suspended.  Following this a matching process will take place and successful candidates will receive their highest ranked preference available.  Candidates whose preferences have been exhausted before their name is reached will not receive an offer and will be notified of this.

Candidates that are deemed not to have demonstrated suitability for training within this specialty will not be included within the matching.

Further details of the offer process is available within the Applicant Guidance on the specialty training website.


Candidates will be given feedback following the completion of the offer process.

Questions still remaining

If after reading this guide your question is not answered you can contact the national recruiter for questions regarding the recruitment process.

We often have candidates with questions regarding the scoring of the portfolio and also about the content.  To ensure that all candidates receive the same level of information we can only provide the guidance that is published on the website and no further details can be given to individuals.  With this in mind please do use the support lines for questions about the portfolio.

For questions regarding vacancy numbers and rotation details please contact the relevant Deanery/LETB.  The contact details are available in the Job Description section on the national recruitment website.