Taking Time out of Programme (OOP) in foundation training

According to the Gold Guide for Postgraduate Foundation and Specialty Training in the UK Occasions where out of programme (OOP) is granted to foundation doctors are likely to be exceptional given the length and nature of their training.  Foundation Schools are required to have procedures to manage requests for Time Out of Foundation Programme (TOFP).

The duration of time out of the foundation programme will usually be 12 months to avoid foundation doctors becoming out of phase with the foundation programme.  Foundation schools will typically only approve OOP at the end of F1 so that the time out is taken between the end of F1 and the beginning of F2.  Examples of why a Foundation Doctor may consider Time out of Training could include:

  • to go abroad to work
  • to go abroad to travel
  • domestic reasons
  • personal reasons

Time out during F1 or F2 placements will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. 

Foundation Doctors should not be compelled to complete their Foundation Programme as quickly as possible if they have good reasons for wishing to take time out.

Whilst this policy does not cover trainees going on Parental leave, such trainees are asked to complete the Time Out of Programme form so that a record of their leave can be held at Foundation School level.  Trainees must follow their employer’s guidelines in respect of Parental leave.

The foundation programme is time and competency based. In addition to the permitted annual leave and study leave entitlements, doctors may require unplanned leave from a programme that does not come under a formal request for time out. Where this leave exceeds 20 days in the F1 or F2 year, this will trigger a review at the Annual Review of Competence Progression as to whether the trainee needs to have an extra period of training. Please also see document “Absences from training in the Foundation Programme GMC position statement” Absence from Training

Foundation doctors who want to take OOP should first discuss this with their educational supervisor and Foundation Programme Training Director.

F1 doctors should be aware that the GMC has made an important change to the way doctors can use their provisional registration. From 1 April 2015, the length of time doctors are allowed to hold provisional registration is limited to a maximum of 3 years and 30 days. Further information can be found at GMC | Provisional Registration.

Foundation doctors who take time out of the foundation programme during F1 to undertake training outside of the UK will require a Certificate of Experience from their medical school confirming that they have successfully completed the requirements of F1 in order to apply for full GMC registration. No other evidence will be accepted. If the foundation doctor cannot provide the evidence for the Certificate of Experience, they are not eligible for full registration and will be limited to applying for provisional registration on their return to the UK. Further guidance can be found at GMC | Provisional Registration.

If the foundation doctor does not contact the Foundation School Manager as agreed, the foundation school is no longer required to hold a F2 programme and the foundation doctor would need to apply for a vacant F2 appointment in open competition. 

Time out of programme for research (OOPR)

Time out of programme for research (OOPR) - Options are limited for foundation doctors because of the short programme duration. Owing to the nature and duration of foundation training, OOPR will be approved only in very exceptional cases. It will usually be restricted to one year and will generally only be taken between F1 and F2.


Peninsula Foundation School Policy

The School will follow the principles of the national arrangements for Time out as set out in the Gold Guide for Postgraduate Foundation and Specialty Training 9th edition (Aug 22).

Time out of a two-year Foundation Programme will usually only be agreed for a one-year period and not for parts thereof.

Time out during F1 or F2 placements will only be considered in exceptional (usually unplanned) circumstances that cannot be managed under existing employer policies. 

If one year out of programme is agreed between F1 and F2, the trainee will have, in principle, the right to return to their Foundation Training Programme after that year is over, assuming that the model of foundation training is still in operation. They will be required to engage in the F2 allocation process prior to re-starting their programme or to apply competitively within any new training system that has replaced foundation training.

If a doctor’s request for time out has been agreed, but their plans/arrangements change, the Foundation School will attempt to identify an appropriate training opportunity at short notice but cannot guarantee to do so.

Doctors must inform the Peninsula Foundation School Manager of their intention to return to the programme by the beginning of December in the year before they will start their F2 programme in the following August. Failure to take this positive action of confirming their intention to return by the required date will mean that the trainee will not have a guaranteed F2 training opportunity within the School on their return. Under these circumstances, the returning trainee would need to apply for an F2 appointment in open competition

If a doctor takes time out of training, they will not return to their original F2 programme and may not be able to return to their originally allocated F2 Trust location.  They must be willing to accept any programme at any trust in the Peninsula providing it provides a compliant and balanced rotation.

A Foundation Doctor may choose to withdraw permanently from a Foundation Training Programme although, before so doing, they should receive careers counselling from an appropriate source, for example, the South West Careers Team, and careful counselling and advice from their educational supervisor, Trust Foundation Programme Director or  Peninsula Foundation School Director. Any Foundation Doctor choosing to withdraw permanently from the programme should complete the School’s Withdrawal Form.

A doctor who has applied for a F2 allocation in their original Foundation Training Programme or School will be expected to take it up. The doctor will be expected to conform to contractual obligations regarding notification of resignation as laid down in national terms and conditions of service. Foundation doctors need to be aware of the GMC strictures relating to accepting posts and then refusing them, without time for adequate arrangements to be made to meet patient and service needs (Good Medical Practice (2013), paragraph 38). 

Procedure for applying

Foundation Doctors who want time out of their Foundation Programme should, in the first instance, discuss this with their educational supervisor and trust Foundation Programme Director.

If, after discussion, a doctor decides to go ahead with their request to take time out, then the doctor should complete a Time Out of Training proforma (available from the UKFPO's website).  This should be sent to the Foundation School Manager. 

The deadline for receipt of applications for all those F1s wishing to take time out between F1 and F2 will be advised annually in an email sent out to all FY1 doctors around November each year.  Please look out for this email.  This deadline must be adhered to unless there are extenuating circumstances e.g., new personal reasons.

Receipt of the Time Out of Training proforma will be acknowledged within 5 working days.

A decision will be made within 30 working days of the annual deadline or receipt of application for applications made after the deadline, unless further information is required. In such cases, the applicant will be advised as to when a decision can be expected.