Foundation Doctor’s Guide to Northern

Northern Foundation School stretches from West to East coast, covering Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and Durham counties.

It contains some of the northern powerhouse specialist hospitals including the Great North Children’s Hospital (with a paediatric bone-marrow transplant centre) and James Cook University Hospital (a major trauma & research centre). For those with a love for the outdoors, the Lake District, with the most stunning and interesting walks, hikes & climbs in the UK overlooking the national park, is within commutable distance.

It goes without saying that Newcastle, Sunderland, and Middlesborough are young and fun cities with a great social scene, often with joint hospital events. Carlisle, Penrith & West Cumberland hospitals are great fun too, with more intimate atmospheres.

Commuting between Newcastle & Sunderland is easy-peasy, but transport networks become slightly hairy further west towards the Lake District. But who cares? It’s the Lake District, there shouldn’t be cars there anyway!

Messly wants to help doctors make evidence-based decisions about their careers. We’ve put together a short guide to the Northern Foundation School to help you rank your rotation programmes. Below is a snapshot of hospital ratings and reviews from the Messly community of doctors together with information about the geography of the region. Sign up to Messly to learn more – we’ve got over 40,000 junior doctor ratings for you to explore.



Click on the hospital to see indepth reviews & GMC ratings on it’s specialties.


Quick Reviews


  • Very good supervision, approachable consultants, managed to assist in small operations, 5-7pm shift to prevent overstaying, great social surgical team.
  • Busy workload especially if we pick up on call lists one after the other, lists of patients need updating with blood results, less time than other surgeries to go to theatre, afternoon ward round at 4.30- but have a 5-7pm colleague to hand over.
Top tips

Familiarise with discharge medications post-op, try go to a staging clerking, try do discharges during nights as they can pile up, ask for advice directly from seniors.

Foundation Year 1, General Surgery  – The Royal Victoria Infirmary


  • Good senior support – registrars and core medical trainees usually available. Manageable workload when fully-staffed. Good range of cases on the ward, including patients on BIPAP, and some opportunity for procedures (chest drains, pleural taps, talc pleurodesis), although the CMTs get priority with this. There is a month of ‘acute block’ built into the rota, where you cover acute medical admissions – this is busy, but educational. Very good nursing staff who look after you.
  • Can get very busy on the ward, particularly over winter. Often required to ward rounds by yourself, which can be daunting, although senior support is available.
Top tips

Be proactive and let seniors know if you want to do procedures, as you will often get CMTs from other specialties wanting to do chest drains/pleural taps.

Foundation Year 1, Respiratory Medicine  – The James Cook University Hospital


Explore our Training Navigator to learn more

We’ve created the Training Navigator, a tool designed using the GMC National Training Survey data, which allows you to compare deaneries and rotations based on 40,000 junior doctors’ ratings and reviews. It’s free to use – click below to sign up and give yourself the full picture.

Get Started

Search Jobs

In this collection 26