National Recruitment ST3 up to 15

Applicant Guide

Health Education England (South West) will be co-ordinating the national selection to Specialty Training posts in Ophthalmology at Level Three (ST3) 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 6th of February 2020.

Below is an outline of the selection process

Recruitment Timetable

The recruitment will take place alongside the ST1 recruitment during Round 1.  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 appointment 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 or equivalent you will need to refer to the 2020 ST3 person specification.  The 2020 specification will be published, prior to applications opening, on the national recruitment website.  The 2019 version is currently published on the specialty training website.

If your employment is subject to immigration control, you should view the specialty training website for information about how this will affect your application. In some cases, applications will not be considered or only once the resident labour market test can be satisfied.

click:  Specialty Training Website

Evidence of Achievement of ST1 & ST2 Competences or Equivalent

For entry to ST3 specialty training applicants are required to provide evidence of achievement of Core Competences within three years of the start date of the specialty training post.

This is essential to the progression of your application and evidence should be uploaded as part of your on-line application form prior to the closing date of applications.  

  • If you are currently undertaking the second year of a specialty training programme in ophthalmology you do not need to upload any documentation.  If offered a position this will be conditional upon achieving a satisfactory ARCP at ST2 level.

  • If you have completed ST1 and ST2 specialty training in ophthalmology, please upload a scanned copy of your ARCP to Oriel before the closing date of applications.
  • If you have not undertaken specialty training in ophthalmology within the UK alternative evidence will need to be provided.  Further guidance on how this should be demonstrated will be published prior to applications opening.

Re-application to Specialty Training

Applicants reapplying for specialty training in ophthalmology that have previously resigned or been removed from will need the support of their previous Head of School/Programme Director and Postgraduate Dean in order to reapply.

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

Applicants requiring this support are advised to start the process early as applications will not be considered without a fully completed and signed form, which must be uploaded to oriel before the closing date of applications.

click: Reapplication to Specialty Training Form

Applying to continue Specialty Training in another region

Applicants who are already in an ophthalmology training programme and are applying again to change area/region must declare this on the application form and at time of application should submit a Support for Reapplication of Specialty Training in a Different Region Form.  

Applicants requiring this support are advised to start the process early as applications will not be considered without a fully completed and signed form, which must be uploaded to oriel before the closing date of applications.

Click: Reapplication of training in a different region form

How to Apply

All specialty training applications for 2020 will be managed through a national on-line application system called “Oriel”.  Applicants can complete the registration section within Oriel at any time.

Oriel can be accessed through the "Apply Now" button on the main page of the recruitment website or from the link below.

Click:  Access Oriel

The full application form for Ophthalmology will be available to complete from 10:00 am on the 7th of November 2019 and can be submitted from this date.

Submitting an Application

Applications can be submitted at any point until the 28th of November 2019 at 4:00 pm.  Please note that there is a strict application policy and applications cannot be accepted after the deadline.

Evidence of foundation competences also forms part of your application and this additional documentation should be uploaded to Oriel prior to the closing date of applications. 

Fitness to Practice

Applicants with fitness to practice declarations will need to submit the 'Fitness to Practise Declaration Form' clearly defining the declaration, including dates and outcome.  The completed from should be emailed to condfidential.sw@hee.nhs.uk by the closing date of applications. 

Click:  Fitness to Practise Declaration Form


All applications will be checked for evidence of the essential criteria outlined in the 2020 person specification.  Applications that do not demonstrate the criteria will not continue through the process.

Applicants that will not be progressing through the process will be notified of this decision, along with the reason, by the 21st of December 2019.  Applicants that meet the initial eligibility checks will be invited to book a slot for the multi-specialty recruitment assessment.

Multi-Specialty Recruitment Assessment

The multi-specialty recruitment assessment is an online test that forms part of the ST1 selection process.  Candidates applying to ST3 will not be required to take this test and all candidates that progress through the longlisting process will be invited to attend the interviews. 

Invitation to Interview

Applicants will be notified of an invitation to interview via Oriel, email and text message by the 16th of January 2020. Interview slots will be available to book through Oriel.

Interviews will be booked on a first come first served basis.

Preparing for an interview

Candidates will be asked to bring documentation with them to interview.  This will include a paper portfolio of evidence.  A finalised list of the contents will be published on the national recruitment website by no later than the 1st of September 2019.


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 make sure that the best candidates are selected in this highly competitive process.

The interviews will be held at the Mercure Holland House Hotel in Bristol on the 6th of February 2020. 

The process for each candidate from registration onwards may take up to 2 ½ hours.  It is anticipated that candidates will spend a period of time preparing for the interview and will then progress through two face to face interviews.  Each interview will last approximately 16 minutes.  

A paper portfolio will be collected from each candidate on arrival which will be reviewed.  Candidates will not be present while the review is taking place and will not be asked questions about the content. The portfolio will be returned to each candidate at the end of their interview.


As part of the national application process applicants will be asked to provide the names of three referees.  References will only be requested when a successful candidate has accepted the offer of a training post.  The purpose of the reference is to confirm employment history and to highlight if there are any concerns.

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

Training Posts & Locations

Each LETB/Deanery will submit the indicative number of vacancies they have available along with a brief outline of the programme. This information will be published on the national ophthalmology website from November 2019.

Also published within this information will be local contacts and links to more detailed information.

The vacancies are correct at point of advertisement but are likely to alter through the process.   All alterations to the vacancies will be published on the national recruitment website.

Expressing a preference - Where would you like to train?

A list of the training positions, known as preferences, will be listed within Oriel and candidates will be given the opportunity to rank the positions in order of preference. To select preferences candidates will be asked to log-in to Oriel from the 11th of February 2020 onwards.  Candidates will have option to amend their preferences at any time during the offer process.

Flexibility in Deployment of trainees

Special Circumstances

A process has been implemented across all specialties to ensure applicants with special circumstances and a requirement to train in a particular location are treated in a fair and consistent way.  Applicants who fall within the eligibility criteria have the possibility of being pre-allocated into a post, subject to meeting the requirements of the training programme.  For full details please see the “special circumstances” information in the applicant guide on the specialty training website

Click:  Specialty Training - Applicant Guide


All offers will be made through Oriel.

Following the interviews, a matching process will take place and candidates will receive their highest ranked preference available. Candidates that do not reach a predefined level at interview will not be included within the matching process.

Candidates whose preferences are exhausted before their name is reached within the matching process will not receive an offer and will be notified of this.

Further information of the offers process is available in the applicant guide.

Click:  Specialty Training - Applicant Guide


Candidates will be given feedback following completion of the selection process in line with HEE guidance.

Travel Expenses

Candidates attending interviews will be reimbursed for travel expenses and overnight accommodation in line with the national guidance.

If candidates require to stay overnight there are many suitable hotels in the surrounding area. 

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. 

Questions still remaining:

If after reading this guide your question is not answered, please see below.

For questions regarding the recruitment process contacts the national recruiter: -

For questions regarding vacancy numbers and rotation details please contact the relevant Deanery/LETB.