Timeline and key dates (for Round 1: Aug-Dec 2020 start)

Adverts appear Thursday 31st October 2019
Applications open 10:00am Thursday 7th November 2019
Applications close 4:00pm Friday 29th November 2019
Interview window Monday 13th to Friday 24th January 2020
Preferences open date Monday 3rd to Friday 14th February 2020
Initial offers released By 5:00pm on Monday 17th February 2020
Hold deadline 1:00pm Friday 13th March 2020
Upgrade deadline 4:00pm Friday 20th March 2020
Hierarchal deadline 4:00pm Wednesday 25th March 2020
Paperwork deadline Tuesday 7th April 2020

The Core Surgical Training application process takes place at a national level (excluding applications to Northern Ireland), and is coordinated by the London and South East Recruitment Office. The application window opens once per year at about the start of November. Applications are submitted via the Oriel Recruitment Portal. As part of the application, candidates have to complete a set of Self-assessment Questions.

Following this, each Deanery (or LETB as they are now called) releases the number of jobs they have available. This number often varies, and may not be confirmed until the last minute. The table below shows the average number of CST jobs per deanery over the last 3 years. Please note  that Competition Rates for jobs vary between deaneries.

Average CST numbers (range)
East Midlands 41 (41-42)
East of England 49 (47-51)
Kent, Surrey, Sussex 38 (37-39)
London 79 (77-83)
North West 79 (77-81)
Northern (North East) 31 (29-32)
Thames Valley (Oxford) 18
South West 43 (40-47)
Scotland 47
Wessex 23
West Midlands 51 (46-56)
Yorkshire and Humber 54 (53-54)
Wales 44
Total 596 (590-601)

Map of UK core surgical training application deaneries

Once all the jobs have been released, applicants then have to rank them in order of preference. How well candidates perform in their interview determines how likely they are to get their first preference. Some Core Surgical posts are themed towards a particular surgical sub specialty.

The Improving Surgical Training Pilot Scheme

This  is a scheme which took on its first trainees in August 2018.

  • It is a run through scheme – trainees enter at the ST1 level and progress through to ST8
  • It will have the same curriculum and required competencies as the current Core Surgical Training scheme
  • It will be applied for through the same application process and interview as Core Surgical Training – one application and one interview however when it comes to ranking you rank the IST jobs as well as the CST jobs and they will be allocated based on the score from interview

What are the benefits of these IST posts?

  • The RCS has started this scheme in order to try and address the current imbalance between training and service provision
  • The aim is for better access to learning opportunities including simulation, less on call commitments and greater multidisciplinary support for trainees

More on this can be found  on the Royal College of Surgeons Website.


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