National Recruitment ST1 up to 90

Applicant Guide

Health Education South West (Severn) co-ordinates the national selection process for Ophthalmology at Level One (ST1).

All the interviews will be held online using Microsoft Teams for posts across the UK.  The posts will commence from August 2021 onwards.

When applying you will not need to select particular posts, regions, rotations, etc.; just complete and submit the application.  You will have the opportunity to rank all the posts available nationally at a later stage in the selection process.

Below are all the details you need to know when submitting an application for specialty training.  Please read the whole guide before starting your application, paying particular attention to the additional evidence section.

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.

Recruitment Timetable

Please see the recruitment timetable for key dates in the selection process.  The timetable can be viewed under the resources section on the national Ophthalmology website. 


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 ST1 Person Specification.   

In order to assess if you have the required competences you will need to refer to the 2021 Person Specification.  Further details about eligibility can also be found in the Applicant Handbook

We understand that over the last six months we have been experiencing unprecedented times and in some instances doctors have been redeployed.

It is a requirement to have less than 18 months in ophthalmology at time of interview.  For applicants that have been redeployed and now find they have more than 18 months in the specialty an exception will be made. 

Applicants in this unique position will need to submit an ’Exception Form’, confirming the number of months that they were re-deployed/undertaking Covid-19 related duties.  This form will need to be verified by their educational or clinical supervisor and uploaded to Oriel at time of application.

Applications with more than 18 months experience in ophthalmology without this supplementary form, at time of application, will not be accepted.

Applying Online through the Oriel Recruitment System

All specialty training applications for 2021 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://new.oriel.nhs.uk/Web.  For guidance when using the system please refer to the Oriel Applicant User Guide.

Completing an Application

Applications open at 10:00 am on the 5th of November 2020 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.

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.  All the forms listed below can also be found within the document library.

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 2021, 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 to which they are applying. 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 read the “Evidence of Foundation Competence: Applicant Guide”.

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 the link below and is also available 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.

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 link below and within Oriel.

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 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 16:00 on the 1st of December 2020.

Further details and to access the forms please see page 23 within the Applicant Handbook.

Submitting an Application

Applications can be submitted until 4:00 pm (UK time) on the 1st of December 2020.  Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Only one application can be accepted and where multiple applications are submitted, only the first application submitted 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 2020. 


There will be no shortlisting within the ophthalmology selection process for 2021. Candidates will be required to achieve a minimum score in the MSRA to progress to the next stage which includes portfolio review and the on-line assessment.

The Selection Process

For 2021 the selection process will be made up of three components

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 2021 and candidates who fail to attend the test will be withdrawn from the selection process.

The test will be available to take from the 28th of January to the 12th of February 2021 at Pearson Vue Centres. Invitations to book the test will be messaged through Oriel.  A text message will also be sent so we recommend that you do not opt out of receiving text messages when you register.

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.  

Candidates that do not achieve the minimum threshold will not progress to the next stage of the selection process.

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.   In the event that the test cannot be delivered within the Pearson Vue centres contingency plans will be implemented to enable candidates to take the assessment.

Evidence Folder

All candidates will be asked to provide a portfolio of evidence similar to the paper version that would have been brought to the face to face selection centre and a list of contents has been published to assist candidates when putting the documentation together.  All candidates will be asked to upload the documentation to a specifically designed on-line portal and will have from 18th of January until the new extended deadline of the 22nd of February 2021 to upload the documents.    

The evidence folders for those candidates that are progressing through the process will be reviewed and scored against a pre-defined criteria by a panel of ophthalmologists.

On-line assessment

The candidates that progress through the process following the MRSA will be invited to undertake an on-line assessment (interview).  The assessment will be undertaken using Microsoft Teams.

The assessment will be in the form of a patient consultation and will involve conversing with an actor.  The interview will be up to 10 minutes in length.

The process for each candidate including the initial identity checks, assessment and the debrief will take approximately 30 minutes. 

Candidates will be asked to book a slot through Oriel.  The slots are booked on a first come first served basis.

Total Score - Offers

The total score for each candidate will be compiled from the scores awarded from the

MSRA – Maximum score 20 points

Evidence Folder – Maximum score 50 points

Online Assessment – Maximum score 30 points

When each component of the selection process has been completed a ranked list of candidates will be produced. The ranking will be allocated based on the total score achieved.  The posts will be allocated in rank order based on preference and will be issued through Oriel on the 30th of March 2021.

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 when the preferences open. 

It is intended that the offers process will commence towards the end of March 2021.  At the point of making offers the 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 Handbook.


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.  Please note references will not be required at the interview.


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.