I am a trainee in Respiratory Medicine. For my Foundation Training I had a paper portfolio, made of trees. Then for Core Medical Training along came this new-fangled ePortfolio, which I’ve been using for >3 years. It has not been fun.

I am a big fan of online learning, electronic resources, apps, and anything made by apple. But I am not a fan of the ePortfolio. So I told them so…

One day I noticed that NHS ePortfolio had added a twitter feed to the login page. So I tweeted them

To my surprise they tweeted back and wanted to know more. The people who work on and run the site don’t necessarily know how it is used, what the problems are and why so many trainees hate it. The developers are lovely people and there are things they can do to make our lives easier. We just need to ask.

And in the bigger context, the people in charge (Royal Colleges, JRCPTB etc) don’t necessarily understand the potential of an ePortfolio, the need for flexibility of content, the urgent need for an app…. and therefore don’t see why they should invest any cash (cash that you pay them in fees. Did you know that a mere £18 a year of your JRPCTB fees is spent on ePortfolio development and support?).

The NHS ePortfolio is here to stay, and versions of it will be with you for life – as a trainee (and beyond with revalidation now a reality), a trainer, a supervisor, an ARCP panel assessor….

If I’m expected to spend more of my life using the NHS ePortfolio it needs to be better. It needs to work for me and the realities of my life and job. It needs to be faster, simpler, more user-friendly, more personalisable, more mobile, more relevant – just better!  This is bigger than the ePortfolio: it’s about valuing trainees and trainers; restoring true mentorship; striving for excellence not competence; and getting the most out of a knowledgable and enthusiastic group of professionals.  If you are a trainee, a trainer, a Royal College representative, a software developer, or anyone else and you agree please look at the site, comment, contribute, and join the revolution.

An update:

This blog has received much more attention than I ever envisaged. I started anonymously, not knowing where it would lead me, but now I think it’s only fair you know who I am so that you can grab me in the street and rant at me in person.

So here I am:

Dr Laura-Jane Smith, ST3/4 Respiratory Medicine in NE Thames, currently in an OOPE as a Clinical Teaching Fellow at ACME, UCL.

All opinions expressed here in the blog are entirely my own and do not necessarily represent the views of my employers UCL or the NHS. Please get in touch on twitter, or by leaving a comment here.


8 responses to “Manifesto

  1. Very pleased to get suggestions directly from those using the site. Will do what we can to help improve usability – and where comments relate to things we can’t change (eg assessment processes, curriculum,sign-off requirements) we can help put on Colleges’ agenda.

  2. Have you seen the open source e-portfolio tool Mahara ( It’s a great example of what can be done (fast, visual, flexible, stable, regular developments, medic-specific plugins…). It’s generally used in Education settings, but has increasing traction in professional development. The Royal College of Midwives us it, for example.

    I agree that the current NHS e-portfolio team are great, but I do wonder whether they’re stuck with the wrong underlying technology? I know it wouldn’t be easy to change, but if they had a 5 year plan, will the current architecture keep up?

    I wonder whether a more plural approach would work better – allow a range of e-portfolio tools, all of which can share key data based on open standards (e.g. LEAP2A and

    This is quite interesting, too:

    COI: I help organisations to implement Mahara and other open source learning tools.

  3. At work (I work in a university) we used to have something called a ‘technology enhanced learning’ strategy…if e-portfolios are about supporting learning and development (I use the if purposefully here) – then the technology used to support that learning must be fit for purpose.It should enhance learning, not act as a barrier. If the idea is you capture learning arising from working (which is the underpinning principle of a work-based training curriculum I believe) then the tools you use to capture that learning must work at work. So, a simple app which you carry around becomes really important 🙂 Great idea to bring people together to discuss these matters!

    • Yes, an app is really important! We can’t transform the entire NHS IT system, and the vision of every doctor carrying an iPad with integrated patient notes, lab results, and their ePortfolio available at the click of a button remains a distant dream. But we can find simple solutions to widely acknowledged barriers to making the best us of the tools we currently have to capture learning.

  4. A big thumbs-up to this website. I’ve only had a brief skim, so apologies if this has already been covered. Have you discussed this year’s update to the eportfolio, where, for every supervised learning event (SLE), a huge number of tick boxes have been added into the electronic forms the assessor has to fill out? These tick boxes link the SLE to the curriculum automatically, which is, admittedly, time-saving for the trainee. But it makes the eportfolio even less user-friendly – which is quite a feat, given how difficult it was to use previously.

  5. The NHS Eportfolio App has been launched Free, open source, cross platform, HTML5 & works offline. Only supports tickets at the moment but reflection & assessments will be working soon.

  6. Hi Laura,
    I’m working on a project for the BMA to help doctors with e-portfolios. It would be great to share this with you and to get your input. Many thanks ,Greg (proposition development, BMA)

  7. I am an F1, soon to be ending a particularly hard winter rotation.

    The NHS ePortfolio website is a complete mess.

    I can handle a demanding job that I regularly have to do unpaid overtime for; I can handle sick patients and angry or concerned relatives; I can just about handle not having enough colleagues to work with; I can handle the long commute and living right next door to a metro line that starts at 05:00 and finishes at 12:30. However, after all of this I can’t handle the impenetrable website that is NHS ePortfolio. I can’t understand it or use it. the NHS ePortfolio website makes me not want to be a doctor.

    After repeatedly trying and failing to get anything done on it I fantasise about tendering my resignation. I expect not to pass F1 simply because I can’t use the NHS ePortfolio website.

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