Professional Support and Wellbeing  

Workforce, Training and Education 

NHS England Southwest 




Ratified by 

PSW team 

Date ratified 


Name and title of originator/author 

Dr Kay Spooner, Associate Dean, PSW 

Name of responsible director 

Dr Geoff Smith 

Date issued 


Review date 

April 2024 

Target audience 

Guidance for Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacists and Advanced Care Practitioners in training, their supervisors, Training Programme Directors, Heads of School and employers 

Document history 



Document status 

This is a controlled document. Although it may be printed, it will not be controlled. For up-to-date guidance, please refer to the copy on the internet. 

Executive summary 

This document is to provide guidance on the Professional Support and Wellbeing service (PSW), which is part of the Workforce, Training and Education division of NHS England Southwest (NHSE SW) for its stakeholders. 

The support provided by PSW is for an individual, as identified below, for a short, specific time during their training, to help them progress and flourish in their career. If an individual is needing longer term help, they will be guided towards other resources via occupational health, Practitioner Support or local providers. 

Mission statement 

“PSW is here to provide personal and professional support and development to postgraduate learners across the southwest to reach their full potential and provide safe patient care” 



  1. Introduction 
  2. Scope 
  3. Aim 
  4. Structure 
  5. The team 
  6. Principles 
  7. Confidentiality 
  8. Process map 
  9. Referral process 
  10. PSW and the ARCP 
  11. Arranging a case manager meeting 
  12. Conduct of the initial case manager meeting 
  13. Responsibilities of the case manager 
  14. Responsibilities of the individual using our service 
  15. Use of our external providers 
  16. Follow up if cases 
  17. Closure of cases 
  18. Data storage 
  19. Urgent support 
  20. Accountability 
  21. Other functions of PSW 
  22. Quality assurance 
  23. Supporting supervisors/educators 
  24. Unhappy with our service 


  1. Introduction 

It is not uncommon for a postgraduate doctor, dentist, pharmacist or advanced care practitioner (ACP) in training to have some personal or professional difficulties during their training. The PSW (formerly Doctors in Difficulty) was developed to help support these professionals overcome short term difficulties and progress with their training. We are separate to the training programme and trust/primary care provider. 

2. Scope 

This guidance applies to all doctors, dentists, pharmacists and ACPs in training with  NHSESW, and their supervisors. However, the appropriate policy of the relevant employer (for example, occupational health, disciplinary or grievance policy) would need to be followed as applicable. Those individuals covered by this document, may be employed by a number of different organisations and have placements within a number of different host training organisations (LEPs). Therefore, this guidance document provides a common approach for all. 

Trust employed doctors not on a training programme should follow their own Trust policies and procedures. 

We are able to support and continue to support individuals, who have already accessed our service, for up to6months after leaving their training programme in order to help with transition, following completion of training, or to another job outside the training programme.  

 3. Aim 

Our aim is to support those postgraduate learners, training within NHSE’s programmes to get ‘back on track’, if they find themselves struggling at any point. We aim to provide the right support, by the right people at the right time. 

We provide support and wellbeing advice to the educators and supervisors in the southwest, via a PSW network and are continually updating our online resources for all. 

Our future plans are to prevent as many of the support concerns as possible, by promoting an open dialogue with those in training and their trainers, their own support networks and colleagues about wellbeing issues. 

4. The structure 



5. The Team 

Dr Kay Spooner- Associate Dean for PSW 

Dr Sarah Huline-Dickens- Associate Dean PSW/PED 

Mrs Giovanna Edwards- Senior Business and Education Manager 

Mrs Amber Shipley- Case Manager 

Mrs Rebecca Calvert- Case Manger 

Mrs Evette May- Team Leader PSED 

Miss Sophie Hunt- Support and Development Officer SuppoRTT 

Miss Chelsea Whittington- Support and Development Officer PSW 

Dr Adam Malin- Associate Dean- Supported Return to Training (SuppoRTT) 


6.  Principles 

  • Confidentiality 

  • Processes transparent and understood by all 

  • Evidence based (as much as possible) 

  • Consistent application of guidelines and process 

  • A culture built around support and wellbeing 

  • Patient safety is paramount 

  • Responsible use of funding and resources 

  • Focussed on prevention of wellbeing issues 


 7. Confidentiality 

The meetings with a case manager or external provider will be confidential and separate to your training supervision. 

The only time a confidence may be broken will be if the individual is a risk to themselves or othersThis is to protect patients and the individual. 

If confidentiality needs to be broken, this will be discussed with the individual and their responsible officer to decide the next course of action. 

Complex cases may be discussed confidentially with other members of the PSW team for advice and support. 


 8. Process Map 



9. Referral process 

Referral information is on our website- please review this as it has the documents you will need to self-refer. 

Educational Supervisors are also able to refer you to the service 

For pharmacists and ACPs in training, your supervisor and training programme director will refer you if appropriate 



A form is completed via website. The individual will be contacted by the team within 2 working days to provide access to the online booking system, for an initial meeting with a case manager. 

Supervisor referral 

If a supervisor refers an individual, the individual will be contacted by PSW within 2 working days of the referral coming in.  

If after 2 further e mails the individual does not engage with the service, the supervisor referring will be informed of the non- engagement. This is to enable the supervisor to discuss other options with the individual. 

If the individual does engage- no more information will be shared with the supervisor and future dialogue and support is confidential (unless agreed by the individual it can be shared). 

If an individual is already being supported, their permission will be sought as to whether they would like their supervisor informed that they are already being supported. 


10. PSW and the ARCP 

It is hoped that those doctors likely to get an unfavourable outcome at ARCP will have already been referred to our service. If not, letters will be given out to the individual after their ARCP recommending and giving information about our services if required. 

The process of the ARCP is stressful for many doctors and we would encourage individuals to come and have a chat about support available. 


11.Arranging a case manager meeting 

We aim to respond to the referral within 2 working days of receiving the referral and provide a link to the meeting booking list. The individual is able to choose and book a suitable time and date to provide an initial meeting with a case manager within 3 weeks 


12. Conduct of the initial case manager meeting 

The individual will have a virtual meeting with a case manager for about an hour. 

The individual should be enabled to attend in work time. 

This is currently via MS Teams, but may return to face-to-face in the future 

The case manager (CM) will use active listening and coaching style questioning to understand the current concerns and enquire about some background history. This is to help decide on the most appropriate resources for the individual. The CMis non- judgemental and non-discriminatory. 

The individual will be referred, as appropriate, to one or more of the following externally provided services: 

  • Coaching 

  • Counselling 

  • Exam support 

  • Communications support 

  • Dyslexia screening, (where appropriate) and associated support 

A summary letter will be sent to the individual within 7 working days of the meeting. This is for the individual, and they can share the contents with their supervisor if necessary. The individual is given 10 working days to respond to any inaccuracies, before it becomes a true record of the meeting. 


13. Responsibilities of the case manager 

To maintain confidentiality 

To listen and be non- judgemental 

To open the virtual meeting on time 

To have suitable qualifications for the role 

If unable to make the meeting, to inform the individual in advance and arrange for another appointment 

To discuss and assist the individual to find the most appropriate means of support for them 

To be up to date with equality and diversity training. 

To have their own supervision and to keep up to date with their professional development in accordance with their annual appraisal 

To attend regular PSW meetings. 

To close their cases in an appropriate timeframe 


14. Responsibility of the individual using our services 

To log on promptly for the meeting 

To have a good internet connection and be undisturbed 

To explain about their concerns and background  

Be respectful with the people they interact with, whether it is an administrator in the team, their case manager or service provider - they are all there to support you.   

To attend any meetings that are booked promptly (this includes booking with a service provider e.g. counsellor).  

Give at least 24 hours' notice if they are unable to attend a meeting with a case manager.   

Respond promptly to any e mails from PSW and inform us of any change of e mail, phone number, address etc 

Complete the evaluation survey (including the text messaging survey) as this helps the PSW team to understand if the services provided are effective and meet the needs of those accessing PSW. 


15. Use of our external providers 

NHSE southwest is able to provide support for the following services: 

  • Up to 6 sessions of counselling 

  • Up to 6 sessions of coaching 

  • A dyslexia assessment and support 

  • Up to 6 sessions of exam support 

  • Communication and study skills coaching 

  • It is expected that sessions will be completed within 6-9 months 

  • These sessions are expected to be taken consecutively once started and not put on hold or considered to be banked. If stopped for any reason (e.g. exam revision), it is expected that you will have a review with your case manager to discuss ongoing support. 

Please be courteous and professional, and give our external providers 48 hours' notice if you are unable to attend or wish to change your meeting. We are invoiced for non-attendance at short notice and funding is limited; failure for an individual to attend may mean the service is compromised and others who requireassistance have less opportunities available to them. 


Please note:   

If an individual is 20 mins late to an appointment with a provider, it will be cancelled and counted as one of your sessions. 

The case will be closed after 3 DNA’s (did not attend) and further support suggestions will be emailed to you from your case manager. 


16. Follow up of cases 

The case manager will send a routine follow up e mail as agreed by both parties. 


17. Closure of cases 

PSW is only intended to provide short term support during training and generally work towards closing a case between 9 to 12 months. 

If there has been no contact with an individual after 2 e mail communications, the 3rd communication will enclose a case closed evaluation form and ongoing support information. 


18. Data storage 

E mail correspondence, referral forms, letters and any other information relevant to the case will be stored within the NHSE SharePoint system in accordance with GDPR and destroyed 6 years after your case is closed. 

This information is only accessible to the PSW team to allow for cross cover if necessary.


19. Urgent support 

Individuals needing urgent support will be signed posted to their local emergency department, GP or crisis team. 


20. Lines of accountability 

The Senior Team are accountable to the Regional Postgraduate Dean and for the Professional and Well-Being Services report on business through the various meetings below:  

PSW reports to the Senior Education Team (SET) every 3 months 


21. Other functions of PSW 

For those in postgraduate medical education we currently also provide peer mentor training OR assist with linking an individual with a mentor 

We also provide workshops and short courses / webinars on a number of topics  


22. Quality assurance 

This is provided by: 

Weekly business and review meetings with our action tracker 

Review of our referral forms to check basic data for us to know who is accessing our services and to make sure we are following equality and diversity guidance 

An evaluation form when the case is closed, to enable us to get feedback and continually improve our services. 


23. Supporting supervisors/educators 

We support our supervisors, educators, team members and other stakeholders via the following groups: 

Joint meeting every month with Professional Educational Development Team (PED)= PSED 

National PSW group- meets every 2 months 

PSW weekly business meeting- 3x month 

PSW Case manager review/support meeting 1x month 

GMC meeting 3x year 

PSW Network meetings  

Attendance at Head of Schools (HoS) meeting 

Attendance at Junior Doctor Forum 

Attendance at Director of Medical Education (DME) meetings 




24. Unhappy with our service 

If you are unhappy with any part of our service or wish to give us feedback; please contact us at the e mail below. 


If you have any other questions, please contact us at: