Ethical and professional issues

Trainees are required to abide by appropriate Health and Care (HCPC) Code of Conduct and British Psychological Society (BPS) guidelines, especially the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct as well as the Society's Professional Practice Guidelines. In addition, the employing trust and host trusts have guidelines on professional and ethical behaviour with which trainees must abide. 

In their work trainees will need to discuss, present and write about their clinical work. They should endeavour to do this in line with the professional practice guidelines. Explicit guidelines are set out in the clinical sections of the handbook. Breaches of confidentiality are regarded as a serious matter and if work is repeatedly submitted that breaches confidentiality this will be reported to the Board of Examiners.

The Health and Care Professions Council will be a source of guidance on standards of conduct - see Health and Care Professions Council ‘Guidance on conduct and ethics for students .

In addition, trainees are expected to abide by university standards of academic probity.

The programme entry agreement which is based on the HCPC code will be signed by all trainees. It provides a clear framework for professional practice and will be reviewed as part of the appraisal process

Information about membership of the British Psychological Society

Trainees are eligible for Graduate Membership of the Society and details of how to apply can be found on the British Psychological Society Website. Trainees may be entitled to a reduced membership fee . To additionally join a Division or other group see the Professional and Membership group pages.

The Division of Clinical Psychology has a Southwest Branch and you can follow them on twitter @DCPSouthWest 

Generic good practice guidelines

When communicating about patients and clients it is important to consider how best to keep the person themselves informed. Here are some useful Guidelines for copying letters to patients produced by the Department of Health.

Professional Practice and Capability procedure

All trainees are employed by Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust and their employment is dependent on their being on the training programme. Programme failure results in a termination of employment. 

The University procedures:

1. Exeter University, Health and Wellbeing and Fitness to Study procedure 

2. Exeter university fitness to practise 

3.In addition it has procedures for dealing with plagiarism and other aspects of academic dishonesty  

4. TQA Code of good practice: Unsatisfactory progress 

Taunton and Somerset Procedures

Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust has two relevant policies:  Taunton and Somerset Capability Policy  &  Taunton and Somerset Disciplinary Policy

Other host trusts will have their own procedures which may differ but are likely to be very similar.

Mapping the procedures

Each of these procedures may be triggered by concerns about a trainee's progress or behaviour. The table below shows how each procedure can be linked or understood at the various levels of concern. The level 1 University Health and Wellbeing and  fitness to study procedure and the Taunton and Somerset “informal monitoring” level in the Capability procedure are formally identical, and may only differ in the content of the meetings. For the higher levels of concern, the HR Department at Taunton and Somerset would always be consulted. 

Level of concernFitness to StudyRelevant Trust ProcedureFitness to PractiseAcademic failureTQA Unsatisfactory Progress
Lowest level Level 1. Meeting with appraiser. “Informal monitoring” (meeting with appraiser) No equivalent stage. No equivalent. Initial warning: concerns about progression should be picked up as early as possible and an appropriate members of staff should warn students informally initially about any concerns with their progress.
Medium level Level 2. Meeting could include Programme Director and other relevant university personnel. Stage 1: Meet with Programme Director as line manager and Human Resources informed. College Stage: Triggered if concern was a breach of professional code or University regulations or academic failure. One fail or clinical referral will result in a letter to HR and notification to the College Board of Examiners. Final warning: If concerns about unsatisfactory progression are not satisfactorily addressed following an initial warning, or if further concerns about the student arise within 12 months of receipt of the initial warning, the student should be referred to the appropriate Associate Dean of the College (or appointed deputy) who should issue the student with a final warning.
Stage 2: HR attend with PD
High level Level 3. Meeting will include relevant university personnel as laid down in the TQA manual. Stage 3: Meeting with Human Resources and a more senior manager with authority to dismiss. University stage: Triggered if concern was a breach of professional code or University regulations or academic failure. Two fails or clinical referral will result in a letter to HR and notification to the College Board of Examiners Dean of College action: If a student’s performance and/or attendance remain unsatisfactory following issue of a final warning, or if further concerns about the student’s progress are picked up within 12 months of receipt of the final warning, the Dean of College will meet with the student to let them know that they will be reporting them to the Dean of the Faculty.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

While it is not essential, taking out personal professional indemnity insurance is encouraged.  This decision is the responsibility of the trainee as is payment. The British Psychological Society works with two insurance companies, and the current insurers provide a significantly discounted rate for trainees. The University of Exeter also provides indemnity for postgraduate students carrying out university related studies although this will not necessarily provide full coverage.