I applied to this foundation school as I wanted to be in the West Midlands. Applying to each of West Midlands foundation programmes: Central, Coventry and Warwick and Staffordshire deaneries respectively allows FY1s to apply for FY2 post across all 3 deaneries, meaning that there is more choice of job rotations (you are not tied down to a combined FY1 and FY2 post as with most other deaneries).
Before getting an offer from Staffordshire, I did not know much about the hospital I was going to. As it happened, I was pleasantly surprised with the hospital – which was a large university hospital providing training for university of Keele graduates. It is a large tertiary centre for several specialities including Surgery, Obs and gynae, is a Cancer centre and is also a trauma centre covering a large area of the West Midlands and North Wales. It is an extremely busy hospital due to the nature of it being a teaching hospital, but this has its benefits: hospital staff are extremely friendly and helpful, and the experience gained on the wards is invaluable - you get to do a lot of hands on practical tasks (even if it means that at times you will feel overworked). The hospital mess is also pretty good - with lots of supplies, and lots of socials being organised.
Stoke as a whole is relatively cheap for rent and expenses, and has great transport links to just about any major city (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool etc all within 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours by train. Nightlife in stoke is generally a bit limited, but with the prices and the transport links this shouldn't dissuade anyone.
In summary, despite not knowing much about the UHNS I was pleasantly surprised with the training and experience received. In all I feel a much more competent doctor having completed FY1 in the hospital.
North Staffordshire Foundation School – University Hospital North Staffordshire (UHNS)