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Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

Abbreviations are commonly used within medicine. Where possible we have explained these throughout the website, however, below is an explanation of the most commonly used terms.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


AAC - The Advisory Appointments Committee makes appointments to the consultant grade.

ACF - Academic Clinical Fellowship.

AHSCs - Academic Health Science Centres are a part of the Department of Health’s strategy to encourage NHS organisations and universities to work more closely to realise the synergies between research, education, and health services to deliver better patient care and create a virtuous circle. This is in line with placing high quality care at the heart of the NHS, as envisaged in Lord Darzi’s report High Quality Care for All. Five such partnerships have been designated as Academic Health Science Centres through an international peer review process. The main benefit of becoming an AHSC is the recognition and prestige it brings. AHSCs are likely to attract additional funding from outside the NHS.

Appraisal - This provides a complementary approach which focuses on the trainee and his or her personal and professional needs. All trainees must have a formally appointed educational supervisor who should provide, through constructive and regular dialogue, feedback on performance and assistance in career progression. The Educational Supervisor will be responsible for bringing together the structured report which looks at the evidence of progress in training and also for undertaking workplace based appraisal with their trainees.

ARCP - The Annual Review of Competence Progression is a process by which trainees in specialty training have the evidence of their progress reviewed by a panel. The panel can then make a judgement about the trainee’s progress and report this to the training programme director, the trainee and the trainee’s employer.

Assessment - This is a formally defined process within the curriculum in which a trainee’s progress in the training programme is evaluated and measured using a range of defined and validated assessment tools, along with professional and triangulated judgments about the trainee’s rate of progress. It results in an Outcome following an annual assessment of the written evidence of progress and is essential if the trainee is to progress and to confirm that the required competences and patient safety are being achieved.

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BMA - The British Medical Association is the professional body to which the vast majority of British doctors belong.

BMJ - The British Medical Journal is a medical journal published weekly in the United Kingdom by the British Medical Association.

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CEGPR - The Certificate confirming Eligibility for GP Registration is awarded after an applicant has successfully applied for entry to the GP register through Article 11 of the General and Specialist Medical Practice (Education, Training and Qualifications) Order 2003. 

CEM - College of Emergency Medicine.

CESR - The Certificate confirming Eligibility for Specialist Registration is awarded after an applicant has successfully applied for entry to the specialist register through Article 14 of The General and Specialist Medical Practice (Education, Training and Qualifications) Order 2003.

CCT - The award of the Certificate of Completion of Training marks the end of specialty training, indicating the doctor has reached a standard compatible with independent practice to enable registration on the GMC Specialist Register and hence eligibility for Consultant appointment. Frequently Asked Questions on CCT.

CCST - Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training.

Clinical Supervisor - A Clinical Supervisor is a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for overseeing a specified trainee’s clinical work and providing constructive feedback during a specific training placement. Some training schemes appoint an educational supervisor for each placement. The roles of clinical and educational supervisor may then be merged.

CME - Continuing Medical Education.

CMT - Core Medical Training / Trainee.

Competence - Competence is the possession of requisite or adequate ability; having acquired the knowledge and skill necessary to perform those tasks which reflect the scope of professional practices. It may be different from “performance”, which denotes what someone is actually doing in a real life situation.

CPD - Continual Professional Development. 

COPMeD - The Conference of Post Graduate Medical Deans provides a forum in which Postgraduate Deans meet to discuss current issues, share best practice and agree a consistent and equitable approach to medical training in all deaneries across the UK.

COGPeD - The Conference of General Practice Directors of Education provides a forum, as COPMeD does, for General Practice training.

COPDEND - The Conference of Postgraduate Dental Deans.

Core training - From 6 August 2008, in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, certain specialties have “uncoupled”. Core training is the first stage of uncoupled training.

Coupled Training - Coupled specialties are those that offered training from ST1 to ST5/7. 

CRISP Report  - Sir Nigel Crisp wrote this report in 2007. Global health partnerships: the UK contribution to health in developing countries recommends that: “An NHS framework for international development should explicitly recognise the value of overseas experience and training for UK health workers and encourage educators, employers and regulators to make it easier to gain this experience and training… PMETB should work with the Department of Health, Royal Colleges, medical schools and others to facilitate overseas training and work experience”.

CT - Clinical Tutor.

Curriculum - A curriculum is a statement of the aims and intended learning outcomes of an educational programme. It states the rationale, content, organisation, processes and methods of teaching, learning, assessment, supervision, and feedback. If appropriate, it will also stipulate the entry criteria and duration of the programme (from the Workplace Based Assessment Subcommittee of PMETB).

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DAPs - Deans Advisory Panel

Darzi Report  - Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review final report High Quality Care For All set out  a vision for the health service that empowers staff and gives patients choice. It says health care will be personalised and fair, include the most effective treatments within a safe system, and help patients to stay healthy. It gives patients more say through initiatives such as care plans for those with long term conditions, a guarantee that the most effective drugs will be available to all, and provides the right to choose care providers, including GPs. People will be helped to stay healthy through the investment of record amounts in wellbeing and prevention services. Front line staff will be encouraged to initiate and lead change that improves quality of care for patients. There will be no new targets from the centre, with service providers accountable to patients and the public. There will be a clinical voice at every level of the service, and investment in new programmes of clinical leadership. A new workforce strategy will fully support NHS staff. The new independent body NHS Medical Education England will scrutinise workforce planning proposals for doctors and dentists. The investment in foundation periods for nurses will triple and a new tariff-based system for education funding will see funding follow the student, improving transparency and rewarding quality.   

Deanery - The regional unit of postgraduate medical education delivery, supervised by a Postgraduate Dean.

Deanery Reference Number - A Deanery Reference Number is allocated to all trainees on core training programmes prior to appointment to a specialty training programmes. The number is unique to the individual trainee but does not lead to the award of a CCT. This is only conferred through a NTN on appointment to a specialty training programme.

DME - The Director of Medical Education, also known as a Clinical Tutor, is a senior clinician appointed jointly by the Deanery and the employing trust to oversee the delivery of education within the trust on behalf of the Deanery.

Diversity Training - Diversity training is the process of educating professionals to work with people of widely differing cultural, social and religious backgrounds.

DoH - Department of Health.

Domain - The Domain is the scope of knowledge, skills, competences and professional characteristics which can be combined for practical reasons into one cluster (from the Workplace Based Assessment Subcommittee of PMETB, 2005).

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EC Directive 93/16/EEC – the European Medical Directive - The European Council’s Directive of 5 April 1993 is designed to facilitate the free movement of doctors throughout the EC and the mutual recognition of their diplomas, certificates and other evidence of formal qualification.

Educational Agreement - An Educational Agreement is a mutually acceptable educational development plan drawn up jointly by the trainee and their educational supervisor.

Educational Appraisal - An Educational Appraisal is a positive process to provide feedback on a trainee’s performance, chart their continuing progress and identify their developmental needs.

Educational Contract - The Postgraduate Dean does not employ postgraduate trainees, but commissions training from the employer normally through an educational contract with the unit providing postgraduate education. Through this contract the Postgraduate Dean has a legitimate interest in matters arising that relate to the education and training of postgraduate trainees within the employing environment.

Educational Supervisor - An educational supervisor is a trainer who is selected and appropriately trained to be responsible for the overall supervision and management of a specified trainee’s educational progress during a training placement or series of placements, often over a year. The educational supervisor is responsible for the trainee’s educational agreement.

EEA - European Economic Area.

ESR - Electronic Staff record. Staff details in all 586 NHS organisations in England and Wales are recorded on an electronic data base which may be used for recruitment, training administration, bank administration, absence, career management, employee self service and line manager access, as well as interfaces.

Equality (or Equal Opportunities) - Equality is the term used to describe ‘policies and practices that tackle inequalities, aiming to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, and that service users do not experience discrimination’.

External Advisors - External advisors are appointed to the Deanery to provide the public or professional scrutiny of clinical education. They are drawn from a wide range of experience and backgrounds in business and public life or specialised clinical expertise. They are expected to be independent and impartial and may be medical or lay depending on the area in which they are required to provide advice or scrutiny. Lay advisors may be involved in recruitment and assessment panels as well as hospital visits.

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Flexi Training - Working part time.

Foundation Programme - A Foundation Programme is the first two years undertaken by trainee doctors after they graduate from medical school. The first year (F1) is undertaken with provisional GMC registration and the second year (F2) after they are granted full registration.

Foundation Trusts - NHS Foundation Trusts are a new type of NHS organisation, established as independent, not for profit public benefit corporations with accountability to their local communities rather than Central Government control. The Secretary of State for Health has no powers of direction over them. NHS Foundation Trusts remain firmly part of the NHS and exist to provide and develop healthcare services for NHS patients in a way that is consistent with NHS standards and principles - free care, based on need not ability to pay. Clinical activity for private patients is strictly limited.

NHS Foundation Trusts have greater freedoms and flexibilities than NHS Trusts in the way they manage their affairs e.g.

  • Freedom from Whitehall control and performance management by Strategic Health Authorities
  • Freedom to access capital on the basis of affordability instead of the current system of centrally controlled allocations
  • Freedom to invest surpluses in developing new services for local people
  • Freedom of local flexibility to tailor new governance arrangements to the individual circumstances of their community.

NHS Foundation Trusts have members drawn from patients, the public and staff and are governed by a Board of Governors comprising people elected from and by the membership base.

FTPD - The Foundation Training Programme Director is the senior clinician appointed jointly by the Trust and the Deanery to oversee the management of the foundation training programme within a trust and is responsible for ensuring the foundation curricula is delivered within the trust. The FTPD reports to the DME and Foundation School Director.

FTSTA - Fixed Term Specialist Training Appointment.

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GMC - The General Medical Council is the regulator of the medical profession in the UK. A doctor must be included on the GMC register to practise medicine in the UK.

Gold Guide - The four UK Health Departments publish 'A Guide to Postgraduate Specialty Training in the UK' which is also known as “Gold Guide”. This document provides the framework for the postgraduate specialty training programmes, including general practice. It is primarily aimed at Postgraduate Deans and their training networks, Medical Royal Colleges/Faculties, employers and others involved in specialty training.

Good Medical Practice - A GMC policy document outlining the duties of a doctor registered with the General Medical Council.

GP - General Practitioner.

GPVTS - General Practice Vocational Training Schemes are training programmes run in deaneries, up to 3 years long, consisting of a combination of hospital and GP posts to enable the post holders to be able to apply for a CCT in General Practice on completion.

Green Book - The UK guide for the GP Registrar Scheme Vocational Training for General Medical Practice is known as the Green Book for specialist training.

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HEETV - Health Education England - Thames Valley - The Thames Valley Local Office for Health Education England (previously referred to as the department of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education or Oxford PGMDE ) coordinates the delivery and funding of postgraduate medical and dental education in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

Heads of School - The Heads of School are the senior clinicians within the Deanery who provide strategic leadership for the development of the postgraduate school which provides and co-ordinates the education and training of doctors within a specific specialty grouping

HCAIs - Healthcare associated infections are infections transmitted to patients (and healthcare workers) as a result of healthcare procedures, in hospital and other healthcare settings.

Health Economy - A Health Economy consists of all the local NHS organisations providing health in a local geographical area. This includes NHS Trusts – acute, mental health and primary care trusts as well as GP practices in the area.

HIECs - Health Innovation Education Clusters are formal partnerships between academia and the NHS to encourage innovation and change in healthcare through training and education, to meet service needs and drive up the quality of patient care. HIECs have a local focus and take into account the specific configuration of services and education in their area.

HMT - Higher Medical Training.

HSMP - The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme has now been phased out and replaced with the Tier 1 (general) of the new points based immigration system. It allowed highly skilled people to immigrate into the United Kingdom to look for work or self-employment opportunities. It was different from the standard UK work permit scheme in that applicants did not need a specific job offer in the UK.

Human Rights - The Human Rights Act came into effect in the UK in October 2000. They “are rights and freedoms that belong to all individuals regardless of their nationality and citizenship. They are fundamentally important in maintaining a fair and civilised society. There are 16 basic rights in the Human Rights Act - all taken from the European Convention on Human Rights.... They concern matters of life and death... but they also cover rights in everyday life, such as what a person can say or do, their beliefs, their right to a fair trial and many other basic entitlements.' 

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IBTICM - Intercollegiate Board for Training in Intensive Care Medicine.

I:CAMS - The electronic online Deanery recruitment system.

IDT - Inter-Deanery Transfer is a process through which a trainee on a specialty training programme can apply, through exceptional circumstances, to transfer to another deanery within the same specialty. There is a defined process and timescale for this.

Intrepid - Intrepid is the Deanery database management system.

ISTCs - Independent Sector Treatment Centres provide services for NHS patients. They are run by independent sector organisations, either from the UK or overseas. Some of the centres are single local sites whilst others are part of a chain across the country on several sites. The work these centres do is either additional NHS work or, in some cases, is activity transferred from existing NHS trusts.

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JCHMT - Joint Committee on Higher Medical Training.

JCST - Joint Committee on Surgical Training.

JRCPTB - Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board.

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Lay - A lay representative does not belong to, is not connected with and does not proceed from the medical profession.

Lead Dean - A Lead Dean has a specific UK responsibility for a specialty including working with the relevant Royal College, faculty or specialty association. LTFTT - Less than full time training is an option for trainee doctors who are unable to train full time and wish to train on a less than full time basis. Wessex Deanery promotes opportunities for LTFTT.

LAS - Locum Appointment – Service is an appointment which provides cover for the service element of a placement for up to 3 months. It is implicit that because of the short-term, service-based nature of an LAS placement, there is little structured training or training benefit to be derived from such an appointment which is therefore not approved for training purposes.

LAT - Locum Appointment – Training is an appointment where it is decided that CCST training experience can be offered and prospective training recognition has been given to a locum post.

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MPET Levy - Multi-Professional Education and Training Levy. The MPET Levy is the funding which comes from the Department of Health to pay for medical training grades (MADEL – Medical and Dental Education Levy), non-medical; (NMET) and undergraduate medical training placements (SIFT – service increment for training).

MRCP - Member of the Royal College of Physicians.

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NCAS - The National Clinical Assessment Service works with health organisations and individual practitioners where there is concern about the performance of a doctor, dentist or pharmacist.

NHSLA - The National Health Service Litigation Authority is a Special Health Authority (part of the NHS), responsible for handling negligence claims made against NHS bodies in England. In addition to dealing with claims when they arise, they have an active risk management programme to help raise standards of care in the NHS and reduce the number of incidents leading to claims.

NPSA - The National Patients’ Safety Agency leads and contributes to improved, safe patient care by informing, supporting and influencing organisations and people working in the health sector. NPSA is an arm’s length body of the Department of Health and through three divisions covers the UK health service.

NTN - National Training Number. This number is allocated by the postgraduate deanery to trainees in specialty training programmes which, subject to satisfactory progress, have an end point of the award of a CCT/CESR.

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Orange Book - The Guide to Specialist Registrar Training is known as the Orange Book.

OOP - Out of programme is when trainees take time out of their training programme to undertake a range of activities, with the agreement of their Postgraduate Deanery.

OOPE - Out of programme for Experience which has not been prospectively approved by PMETB and which cannot be counted towards training for a CCT may be suitable for a CESR or CEGPR .

OOPR - Out of programme for Research can be counted towards training if it is prospectively approved by PMETB. Research can also be considered for a CESR or CEGPR .

OOPT - Out of programme for Clinical Training may be prospectively approved by PMETB and can be counted towards a CCT.

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“Permit-free” Training - Overseas doctors who do not hold or who are not entitled to a right of indefinite residence in the UK, who undertake postgraduate training in the hospital service and who intend to leave the UK on completion of training, are able to enter the UK under Immigration Rules commonly known as “permit free” training arrangements. Changes to the Immigration Rules were introduced in 1997 and enable overseas doctors in the specialist registrar grade to complete training programmes which have been agreed with the Postgraduate Dean.

Postgraduate Dean - The Postgraduate Dean is the senior doctor responsible for all postgraduate medical education and training in hospital and general practice in a particular deanery. They are also accountable to PMETB for the postgraduate medical education and training in that deanery.

Professionalism - Professionalism is the adherence to a set of values comprising statutory professional obligations, formally agreed codes of conduct, and the informal expectations of patients and colleagues. Key values include acting in the patients’ best interest and maintaining the standards of competence and knowledge expected of members of highly trained professions. These standards will include ethical elements such as integrity, probity, accountability, duty and honour. In addition to medical knowledge and skills, medical professionals should present psychosocial and humanistic qualities such as caring, empathy, humility and compassion, social responsibility and sensitivity to people's culture and beliefs.

Programme - A Programme is a managed educational experience. As defined by PMETB, “a programme consists of a series of placements in a range of training environments, offered by a range of training providers and to be used by a number of trainees. PMETB approves programmes of training in all specialties, including general practice, which are based on a particular geographical area – which could be in one or more Deaneries if a programme crosses boundaries. They are managed by a training programme director (TPD) or their equivalent. A programme is not a personal programme undertaken by a particular trainee.”

Programme Managers - Programme Managers are managers within the Deanery who co-ordinate and manage the training programmes and individual trainee requirements, working with the Heads of School and Programme Directors.

PFT - Permit Free Training.

PYA - Penultimate Year Assessment.

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QAFP - Quality Assurance of the Foundation Programme is a joint process between the GMC and PMETB to regulate the standards within deaneries for the foundation programme. 

Quality Assurance - Quality Assurance refers to the overall review undertaken at the level of the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board, the national regulator for medical education.

Quality Control - Quality Control refers to the local review and audit of education that takes place at Trust level.

Quality Management - Quality management refers to the processes undertaken by the Deanery to feedback and improve educational quality.

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RA - Regional Advisor.

RCoA - Royal College of Anaesthetists.

RCPCH - Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

RCPath - Royal College of Pathologists. 

RCP - Royal College of Physicians

RCPsych - Royal College of Psychiatrists.

RCR - Royal College of Radiologists.

RCS - Royal College of Surgeons

RITA - The Record of In-Training Assessment provides a record of the annual review and hence the SpR’s progress through his training programme and therefore the grade. It should normally be completed jointly by the trainee and the Postgraduate Dean or Deanery staff each year. It is not a means of assessment in itself

Run-through training - Run-through training is a term used to describe the structure of specialty training introduced in August 2007 in which trainees are competitively selected into specialty training curricula which cover both the early and more advanced years of specialty training. Once selected into a run-through specialty training programme, a trainee will be able to complete specialty training in the broad specialty group or specialty, subject to progress. From 6 August 2008, some specialties have moved away from this model (see uncoupled training), whilst others have continued with it. 

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Sessional Supervisor - The Sessional Supervisor is the person responsible for overseeing clinical care in that particular session (evening, morning or night). This person may not necessarily be a doctor but has the appropriate clinical skills.

SAC - The Specialty Advisory Committee is the usual (but not the only) name used for the committee which advises the College or Faculty on training issues and sets the specialty specific standards within the context of the generic standards of training set by PMETB.

STA - Specialist Training Authority. Prior to the establishment of PMETB, STA was the competent authority for specialist training.

Specialist Training - Specialist Training is the description of postgraduate training marked by the reforms to postgraduate medical training which began in 1996 under the Chief Medical Officer. Trainees appointed to these programmes are known as specialist registrars.

Specialty Training - Specialty Training is the description of postgraduate training following the current reforms to postgraduate medical training and marked by trainees who entered training from August 2007.

SpR - Specialist Registrar is the title given to trainees who were appointed into specialist training prior to January 2007.

StR - Specialty Registrar is the title given to trainees who are appointed into specialty training from August 2007.

Stakeholders - A stakeholder is a person, group of people or organisation that affects or can be affected by the actions of our organisation as a whole.

ST - Specialist Training.

STC - Specialty Training Committee is the usual (but not the only) name used for the committee which advises and manages training in a specialty within a Postgraduate Deanery.

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Tier System - The points based system, or Tier System, followed from February 2008 when the immigration system was reviewed and changes were implemented. An employer led sponsorship licence system has replaced the work permit system, requiring employers who recruit and employ migrants from outside the EEA and Switzerland to hold a sponsorship licence and issue certificates of sponsorship to migrants they wish to employ. 

  • Tier 1: Highly skilled individuals to contribute to growth and productivity
  • Tier 2: Skilled workers with a job offer to fill gaps in the UK labour force
  • Tier 3: Low skilled workers needed to fill specific temporary labour shortages – this tier is suspended indefinitely
  • Tier 4: Students
  • Tier 5: Youth mobility and temporary workers.


Tooke review - Sir John Tooke MP led an independent review of a new set of policies designed to develop and improve postgraduate medical training and education. This reform programme was known as Modernising Medical Careers (MMC). Following serious problems with the recruitment process in 2007 the MMC England Programme Board, the medical profession, the NHS, Deaneries and the Department of Health have come together to agree a recruitment process which has been effective in finding the right doctors for the training posts in the system. 

Tomorrow’s Doctors - A GMC guidance publication which sets out the duties of a doctor registered with the GMC. It identifies the knowledge, skills, attitude and behaviour expected of new graduates.

TPD - Training Programme Director, sometimes referred to as PD – Programme Director, is a senior clinician appointed by the Deanery and Postgraduate School to oversee the management of the training programme for either core or specialty training

Trainee - A trainee is a registered doctor in training.

Transition - Transition is the move to the new system of training under MMC. Transition began on 1 August 2007 and will finish when the last trainee appointed under the old curriculum completes their training.

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Uncoupled training - Uncoupled specialties do not offer run through training. In the specialties where uncoupled training is offered trainees would be appointed to a 1,2, or 3 year programme dependent on the level and specialty they were appointed to. For example trainees appointed at Core Training year 1 (CT1) in Core Psychiatry Training would expect to receive a 3 year contract and then have to compete in open competition for an ST4 post.

UKCEA - The UK Conference of Postgraduate Education Advisors in General Practice promotes education and training related to General Practice UKFPO - UK Foundation Programme Office. The UKFPO is the body which oversees, for the UK, the development of the foundation programme curricula and standards. It is based in Cardiff.

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WPBA - Workplace Based Appraisal is the process whereby trainees are appraised by their educational supervisors on behalf of their employers, using the assessments and other information which has been gathered in the workplace.

WPBA - A Workplace Based Assessment is the evaluation of a doctor’s progress in their performance in those areas of professional practice which are best tested in the workplace. It is a process in which evidence of competence in independent practice is gathered in a structured and systematic framework. Evidence is collected during training. The evidence is recorded in a web-based portfolio (the ePortfolio) and used to inform regular reviews and, at the end of training, to make a holistic, qualitative judgment about the readiness of the doctor for independent practice. WPBA is a developmental process. It provides feedback to the trainee and drives learning. It may indicate where a doctor is in difficulty. It is learner led: the trainee decides which evidence to put forward for review and validation by the trainer. It is delivered locally by deaneries. 

WTD - The European Working Time Directive is a directive from the Council of Europe (93/104/EC) to protect the health and safety of workers in the European Union. It lays down minimum requirements in relation to working hours, rest periods, annual leave and working arrangements for night workers. The Directive was enacted into UK law as the Working Time Regulations, which took effect from 1 October 1998. The Government negotiated an extension of up to twelve years to prepare for full implementation for doctors in training. Since 1991, doctors in training have been covered by the New Deal, a package of measures to improve the conditions under which they work. One of the key features of the New Deal is limits on the working hours of junior doctors. From August 2003 all junior doctors have been limited by contract to 56 hours of active work. With effect from August 2009, all junior doctors will be limited by contract to 48 hours of active work per week.

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