7 April 2020

The disruption to research programmes, posts and individuals at Imperial caused by the Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented. The suspension of non-routine research, switch of College operations to remote working and the call for clinical academics to return to clinical work has raised concern and numerous questions for affected individuals.   The university, funders of research and others are working hard to respond to these challenges to adjust processes, and provide flexibility and reassurance for those whose clinical academic research has been disrupted.  The situation is constantly evolving and incredibly complex -  we do not have all the answers yet, but they are being worked on.  The FAQs below provide some general principles and guidance which we hope will be helpful in the meantime.

FAQs

What is Interruption of Studies for clinical PhD/MD(Res) fellows?

Many fellows will need to formally interrupt their PhD registration with the University for the duration of their time away from research doing clinical work.  This ‘IOS’ effectively stops the clock on research degree milestones.  Interruption of Studies should be discussed with PhD supervisors and the Research Degree Manager in your respective department and will need authorisation from the Head of Department or a nominee.  In the first instance you should contact the Research Degree Manager for your Department to advise them you have returned to clinical work, and then discuss how best to take forward the IOS request.  IOS request forms can be found online.  https://wiki.imperial.ac.uk/display/medresstudents/Appendix+III+-+forms?preview=/37915845/72189939/IOS%20201617%20onwards.docx

If you are formally having an IOS then be sure to determine whether your funding needs to continue from the University or is being replaced from an NHS Trust. You can have an IOS but continue the University funding stream, but must make this clear. We will reclaim monies from the NHS in due course so your PhD can be extended. If you are not sure the NHS is paying, keep the University funding !  but do not get paid by two sources ..

Will the end point of time ‘Out of Programme’ periods approved by Health Education England for doing PhD/MD(Res) be extended?

HEE has indicated that it will support extensions to OOPR to accommodate returns to clinical work during the Covid-19 crisis.  This will be resolved in due course but no-one will lose their academic/research time. 

What happens to my clinical PhD research salary paid through the College if I return to the NHS to do clinical work during the Covid-19 crisis?

If you are asked to return  to a clinical role, all the major funders, including the Imperial Health Charity, Wellcome, and BRC are prepared for this and are happy to accommodate you so that you can either make up academic time later or suspend your fellowship in the short term of this critical period. NIHR are requiring trainees they fund to return to clinical service where appropriate.   If you do need to do this, please talk to your supervisors and Director of Postgraduate Studies in your Department, and make sure that you contact the relevant person at your funding body.    Arrangements for covering your salary whilst you are doing clinical work will vary depending on your research funder and which NHS Trust you work with.    In most cases, if possible, it makes sense to ask for salary payments from the College to be suspended and for the Trust to start paying you as soon as possible to ensure full banding is paid correctly and you receiving equal pay as other clinicians working clinically. However, in other cases arrangements have been made for clinical PhD fellows to continue to be paid by the College whilst they work for the NHS on the understanding that the College can re-charge the NHS employer after the end of the deployment.  (Note:  if you remain on College payroll during your clinical work during Covid-19 the university and research funders do not pay for banding:  this will come from the NHS Trust, although can be paid via your university when arranged).  In all cases clinical academics are strongly advised to keep accurate records of the time spent in clinical work during the Covid-19 period, which may be needed later.

For further information on your specific circumstances you might want to discuss with your supervisor, local Section Manager or contact your research Funder or the Trust where you are working directly.  

Will my employment rights/continuity of service be impacted by switching to NHS funding/salary during this time?(College salaried PhD fellow or CL)

All major research funders subscribe to the principle that accrued employment rights must be protected. This includes any changes in employer from a NHS trust/board to an academic institution or vice versa, in principle there should be no detriment to moving in either direction.

 

PGR Departmental contacts, Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine

FoM Department

Research Degree Manager

Contact

Director of Postgraduate Studies

Contact

National Heart & Lung Institute

Katerina Koutstantoni

a.koutsantoni@imperial.ac.uk

Professor Mike Lovett

m.lovett@imperial.ac.uk

Department of Brain Sciences

Hayley Kendall-Berry

h.kendall@imperial.ac.uk

Professor Kevin Murphy

k.g.murphy@imperial.ac.uk

Department of Immunology & Inflammation

Hayley Kendall-Berry

h.kendall@imperial.ac.uk

Professor Kevin Murphy

k.g.murphy@imperial.ac.uk

Department of Infectious Diseases

Hayley Kendall-Berry

h.kendall@imperial.ac.uk

Professor Kevin Murphy

k.g.murphy@imperial.ac.uk

Department of Metabolism, Digestion & Reproduction

Hayley Kendall-Berry

h.kendall@imperial.ac.uk

Professor Kevin Murphy

k.g.murphy@imperial.ac.uk

Department of Surgery & Cancer

Jennifer Simeon

j.simeon@imperial.ac.uk

Professor Michael Seckl

m.seckl@imperial.ac.uk

School of Public Health

Anja Gizdavcic   / Hayley Atkinson

sph-pgradmin@imperial.ac.uk

Dr Abbas Dehghan

a.dehghan@imperial.ac.uk

Institute of Clinical Sciences

Amida Bukuru

students@lms.mrc.ac.uk ; a.bukuru@lms.mrc.ac.uk

Dr Enrique Martinez-Perez

enrique.martinez-perez@lms.mrc.ac.uk

What happens about lost or disrupted research blocks for Academic Clinical Fellowship and Clinical Lecturer posts?

NIHR has indicatedthey will be as flexible as possible to help support trainees during the current situation and have offered reassurance that by supporting the national effort they won’t be unfairly penalised in terms of current NIHR awards or future clinical academic careers.  This may, for example, include rearranging your research time and clinical time to allow you prioritise clinical work. ACFs in general will simply have academic time after the Covid epidemic, and not need extended ACF time, and this might apply to some CLs. Others may need extensions if this is not possible or clinical training cannot occur in a specialty. This will be resolved case by case.

Nobody has approached me yet about returning to NHS service during the crisis - who should I contact?

Contacts will vary from Trust to Trust. For ICHT please contact Dr Ruth Brown ruth.brown8@nhs.net

19 March 2020

Here are some notes about the implications of COVID-19 for your IAT (ACF or CL) and CRF/clinical PhD posts:

  1. Please use the Trust (or College) intranet as your primary source of information: you should read the daily updates to all NHS/College staff and follow the advice and instructions on the Trust intranet.
  2. As you are no doubt aware, current clinical research studies have been suspended until further notice, unless exempted (Covid related), and all University research activity.
  3. Use the time you have available, if not called on clinically or able to do primary research eg sort any processes of Sponsorship / ethics / HRA / Capability and capacity assessment if relevant; read; undertake data analysis; write up what you have done already. Carry on setting yourself goals and targets so that you have some structure in your work - this is when your project and time management skills will really come into play!  Many of you may not have spare time if needed clinically of course.
  4. CRFs (for Doctors in training in UK currently on OOP):  If you are asked to return to your clinical role, all the major funders, including the Imperial Health Charity, Wellcome, and BRC are prepared for this and are happy to accommodate you so that you can either make up academic time later or suspend your fellowship in the short term of this critical period. NIHR are requiring all trainees they fund to return to clinical service.   If you do need to do this, please talk to your supervisors and line manager and make sure that you contact the relevant person at your funding body.  Your departmental Research Degree Manager can advise about interrupting PhD registration with the University. There will be NO problem in extending your fellowship if needed, and resolving who funds the extension in due course (NHS or research funder). The research funders will make available funds if needed for example to keep animal colonies alive, or materials in specific conditions.
  5. ACFs:  if you lose academic time by being called back into clinical work, which is expected, this will be made up later after the summer so you do not lose any academic periods
  6. CLs:  similarly we will ensure you do not lose academic time if you are called back into clinical work, as expected.  Some of you may not be able to progress clinically if routine surgery/imaging etc for example is cancelled, even though using clinical time. NIHR will explore case by case the need for extensions to CL posts in due course.
  7.  ALL: Importantly PLEASE DO keep an accurate record of the time/days/weeks you spend in clinical work during this period, which may be needed later. Please ensure your clinical TPD and academic lead are informed by email of the precise date you are seconded back into clinical work.
  8. Please share any other suggestions and support each other as much as possible.

 

And some more info here for those of you who are NIHR funded:

https://www.nihr.ac.uk/documents/covid-19-message-for-all-nihr-academy-members/24477#Infrastructure_and_Schools_trainees

MESSAGE FOR CLINICAL ACADEMICS ON BEHALF OF MAJOR FUNDERS AND THE WIDER RESEARCH COMMUNITY (19 MARCH 2020)

https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/clinical-academics-and-covid-19 

REGULAR INFORMATION AND UPDATES

For the latest information and advice please visit the dedicated Covid-19 page from Imperial College London, which includes guidance on ‘How will disruption due to Covid-19 impact my research funding’ in the ‘Guidance for Staff’ section  http://www.imperial.ac.uk/about/covid-19/