1. Introduction

1.1       The Study Leave Policy has been designed to ensure that the management of study leave across the School is in line with the national Reference Guide, (2016).

1.2       While some diversity in the way in which education is delivered between the Local Education Providers (LEPs) is welcome, the management of study leave should be within a common framework in which trainees in different localities receive equal treatment. 

2. Scope of the guidance

2.1       The guidance relates to trainees in foundation posts within the Peninsula Foundation School’s LEPs. It does not extend to F2 trainees approved for F2 abroad and there is no study leave entitlement for such trainees. This is because the total study leave budget is determined by the number of local training posts only. The F2 abroad is an employee of a host organisation that has its own entitlements for leave and training to which they are subject.

2.2       Each LEP is expected to provide its own study leave guidance to explain the entitlement and how a trainee can apply for study leave in line with this guideline and those published by HEE.

3. Study leave principles

3.1       According to the UKFPO 2018:

i) Study leave will normally be granted flexibly and tailored to individual needs, in accordance with the requirements of the curriculum.

ii) Study leave for Foundation Year 1 doctors (maximum 15 days) will take the form of a regular scheduled teaching/training session as agreed locally; also, FY1 doctors may use up to 5 days of Foundation Year 2 Programme study leave for tasters to inform future career decision making.

iii) Study leave for Foundation Year 2 doctors (maximum 30 days) will include periods of regular scheduled teaching/training sessions delivered locally and for many no additional support will be needed. Study leave may also include (subject to agreed level of approval):

  • An approved external course aligned to the curriculum: this includes ALS or equivalent (unless already completed in FY1) and occasionally other activity intended to support Foundation Doctors achieve their curriculum outcomes.
  • Periods of sitting an examination aligned to their future career intention.
  • Requests for such leave shall be viewed positively in most circumstances, but with a view to ensuring that the needs of service delivery can be safely met.

iv) Study leave days which have not been allocated to the generic teaching programme, taster sessions and ALS (or equivalent) may be taken if this is consistent with maintaining clinical services. Study leave must be agreed in advance to avoid disruption to services. The study leave application must be supported by the educational supervisor, foundation programme director or Head of School as indicated in the guideline appendix.

v) Study leave should not be used to prepare for specialty examinations during foundation training but may be used to take a specialty examination.

3.2       Applications should be submitted with a minimum of six weeks’ notice to allow time for approval to take place. An application should not be regarded as approved until a confirmation email has been received from the LEP postgraduate medical education team.

3.3       LEPs will be reimbursed for approved study leave expenses only if approval follows published guidelines from HEE and the Peninsula Foundation School. Where aspirational courses are approved, this should include the level of expenses. This may be anything from no expenses to 100%. LEPs should establish the level of funding before reimbursing the trainee.

3.4       Each LEP will contribute to the regional F2 teaching programme. F2s must attend a minimum of 4 days from the F2 Regional Teaching Programme. Study leave should be booked with sufficient notice to attend. Each LEP should also provide local foundation teaching for the F2s although this would not need to be every week. This is to ensure that trainees receive an equivalent level of formal teaching regardless of the LEP in which they are training.

3.5       2 days’ study leave should be allocated for ALS training in F2 (or if done in F1).

3.6       5 days’ study leave should be allocated for Tasters only, which can be taken in F1 (please also see 3.10 below).  The allocation for Tasters cannot be transferred into other leave i.e. if the trainee chooses not to use 5 days’ study leave for Tasters, then the leave will lapse. Trainees can use more than 5 days’ leave for Tasters.

3.7       Each Foundation trainee should have access to two half days of simulation training each year.  F1 simulation training should be delivered as part of the generic teaching programme; F2s may be expected to use study leave to attend.

3.8       F2 trainees may be granted study leave to sit postgraduate exams, however no study leave can be taken for preparation for the same.

3.9       Doctors who train on a less than full-time basis will have the same entitlements to be used during their full-time equivalent training period. This means, for example, that an F2 completing the programme on a less than full time basis over 2 years will have one year’s full-time entitlement across those 2 years.

3.10     F1 trainees can take up to 5 days’ study leave for Tasters, in which case their study leave allowance in F2 will be reduced to 25 days.  For academic F1s, these 5 days will be used to support their additional educational activities and will not be available for Tasters.

3.10.a   F1s can use 1 day’s study leave to attend a careers planning workshop offered by Health Education England South West team. This too will be taken from their overall study leave allowance.

3.10.b   The LEPs will be responsible for recording the study leave that has been taken, so that this can be monitored across the programme.

3.10.c   F1 trainees have no study leave budget.

3.11      There should be no deduction from the study leave allowance for departmental teaching as it is not targeted to the foundation curriculum, not provided equally across all posts and trusts and the education centre has no control over whether it happens.  The exception to this is the leave required to attend the GP learning sets; 5 days study leave. This means that between 12 – 17 days’ study leave should be available for all Peninsula F2s for further regional teaching attendance or independent use.

3.12      Where applications are made for study leave to attend educational courses that also have a large element of free time as part of the programme, study leave should only be granted for the time associated with the formal educational content of the course e.g. this might mean that, for a week’s course, it would be appropriate to approve 3 days as study leave and the trainee would need to take 2 days annual leave in order to attend.

3.13       Conferences/courses outside of the UK will not normally be supported. Support will be considered for trainees attending an overseas conference to deliver an oral or poster presentation. These applications require Head of School approval.

Summary table for use of F2 study leave time

Use of total study leave time

5 days teaching: minimum 4 days from regional teaching programme plus additional 6 hours foundation teaching (30 hours total)

1 day simulation training (may be delivered in 2 half days)

5 days Tasters (which can be taken in F1 for Taster and/or 1 day career planning)

GP learning sets (5 days)

ALS (2 days)

 4. Tasters

4.1       The purpose of a taster experience is to enable the doctor to gain a small amount of clinical experience in a specialty in which they have not worked whilst a medical student or foundation trainee; enable the doctor to explore in closer detail what a career in a specialty might entail – skills, attitudes, behaviours, essential aptitudes; compare the taster specialty with others already experienced; meet clinicians and explore career pathways in “unusual” specialties and settings; explore opportunities available in small specialties and those specialties which have traditionally been undersubscribed (Reference Guide, 2012).

4.2.      The Foundation School has agreed that tasters can be taken in specialities that the trainee will do later in their rotation (i.e. to help their decision-making prior to the specialty training application period) or has worked in previously; however, in the latter circumstances, the taster should be geared towards covering areas in which the trainee was not able to gain experience from a previous post e.g. seeing the range of work a consultant does in that specialty.

4.3       The main purpose of tasters is to help career decision making with regard to a specialty for which a trainee might apply. They are not for ‘CV building’ exercises such as demonstrating commitment to training in a particular region or focussing entirely on areas of work with weak links to the main specialty.

4.4       Trainees applying for tasters should be asked to submit a clear set of learning objectives and a significant part of a taster should be about experiencing the role of the Consultant.     

4.5       The length of a taster will vary depending on the learning objectives. A taster should last no longer than 5 days.

4.6       A taster should be taken within the trainee’s current hospital if it is offered there; a taster may be undertaken only within the footprint of the School, unless that specialty is not offered in the region or tasters in that specialty are not supported locally. 

4.7       A trainee can take a maximum of 5 days’ taster experience in any single 4 month post. This is to minimise the impact of trainee absence on their post-specific learning and service provision.

References

Foundation Programme Reference Guide 2016 available at http://www.foundationprogramme.nhs.uk/pages/home/reference-guide