Out of Programme (OOP)
We understand there are a number of reasons why a doctor in specialty training may want or need to take time out of their approved programme. All time out of programme has to be approved by Health Education England, and in some cases, the Royal College / JRCPTB / JCST and GMC. We recommend you start discussing any time you wish to take out of programme with your Training Programme Director and Educational Supervisor as early as possible.
It is important to remember that time out of programme is a privilege and is granted on an individual basis at the discretion of the Training Programme Director / Head of School and HEE.
Important note: Any OOPT or OOPR applications requesting time to count towards training must be made in good time (6 months notice prior to the OOP start date where possible), and must be submitted with a supporting letter from the Royal College or Faculty / JRCPTB / JCST. Once in receipt of the relevant documentation HEE local team staff are required to make an application to the GMC for approval prospectively. Applications made in retrospect will not be accepted by the GMC.
Our new fully electronic OOP application and extension forms are now available for you to download and use at the bottom of this page. Please ensure you save the forms locally and open as a PDF with Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader before completing. Do not begin completing the form if it has opened as a webpage or in PDF Previewer, as this will disable the electronic signature fields and deem the form invalid. As an organisation we are moving towards going paperless and appreciate your assistance with this. Please ensure you carefully read the FAQs below and the instructions on page 1 of the application forms prior to completion.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Research Extensions (OOPR)
If you are planning on applying to extend your time out of programme for research (OOPR) please be aware that there are restrictions around the maximum period of time you are permitted to take out of programme. As stated in the Gold Guide;
“Time taken out for research purposes is normally for a higher degree (e.g. a PhD, MD or Master’s degree) and will not normally exceed three years. OOPR exceeding three years will only be granted in highly exceptional circumstances and requires specific prospective approval from the Postgraduate Dean.”
If extending your OOPR will exceed the 3 year time limit you are first required to gain approval in principle from your Head of School (HoS) and Dr Francesca Crawley, HEE EoE Programme Director for OOP. We strongly encourage all trainees to gain this approval prior to applying for further research funding to avoid future disappointment.
OOPR extensions exceeding this limit and submitted without prior HoS/OOP Programme Director approval in principle will be declined.
Please be aware that this webpage and application process is for trainees in the East of England region only. If you are not an East of England trainee you will need to go to the OOP webpage of the region you are training in.
Time out of programme (OOP) will not normally be agreed until a trainee has been in a training programme for at least one year of training.
Trainees in their final year of training will not usually be granted OOP either, unless applying to act up as a Consultant (AUC).
Occasions where OOP is granted to core trainees are likely to be highly exceptional given the short length and the nature of core training.
It is important to remember that time out of programme is a privilege and is granted on an individual basis at the discretion of the Training Programme Director, Head of School and HEE.
The purpose of taking time out of a specialty training programme is to support trainees in the following ways:
Supports trainees in undertaking clinical training which is not a part of the trainee’s specialty training programme.
Trainees applying for OOPT may apply for this period (or part of the period) to count towards their CCT date. A supporting letter from the Royal College or Faculty / JRCPTB / JCST must be submitted with these applications.
Supports trainees in undertaking a period of research.
Trainees applying for OOPR may apply for this period (or part of the period) to count towards their CCT date. A supporting letter form the Royal College or Faculty / JRCPTB / JCST must be submitted with these applications.
- Supports trainees in gaining clinical experience which is not approved by the GMC, but which may benefit the doctor (e.g. working in a different health environment/country) or to help support the health needs of other countries (e. g. Médecins Sans Frontières, Voluntary Service Overseas, supporting global health partnerships).
The period of time taken OOPE will not count towards training and the trainees CCT date will be adjusted accordingly.
Supports trainees in taking a planned career break from the specialty training programme.
The period of time taken OOPC will not count towards training and the trainees CCT date will be adjusted accordingly.
OOPT / OOPR
Trainees applying for OOPT or OOPR may apply for this period (or part of the period) to count towards training. A supporting letter or email from the Royal College or Faculty / JRCPTB / JCST must be submitted with these applications.
Any applications for time to count must be made in good time (with 6 months notice where possible and no less than 3 months prior to the OOP start date). After receipt of the OOP application and supporting College letter, LETB admin must then apply for prospective approval from the GMC if the OOP location is not a GMC approved setting.
Important note: Any applications for time to count in a setting not approved by the GMC MUST be submitted to the GMC for approval (by LETB staff) prospectively. HEE takes no responsibility for applications that are submitted by trainees in retrospect and subsequently rejected by the GMC.
Please note, as stated in the Gold Guide:The period of recognition may be reduced if the training placement did not provide the expected competencies.
Trainees may be able to take time out of programme to act up as a consultant (AUC) and may be able to credit this time towards a CCT or CESR(CP). If this kind of post is formally included in the approved specialty curriculum, additional prospective approval is not required from the GMC. Trainees acting up as consultants will need to have appropriate supervision in place, and approval will only be considered if the acting up placement is relevant to gaining the competences, knowledge, skills and behaviours required by the curriculum. In these circumstances, AUC will normally be for a fixed-term period of three months for both full-time and LTFT trainees.
It is sometimes possible to act up as a Consultant outside of the current training programme, but this is rare. If trainees are planning on AUC outside of their current curriculum or in a different country they must provide a letter of support from the Royal College, Faculty, JRCPTB or JCST with their OOP application. The HEE local team must then apply for prospective approval from the GMC.
OOPE / OOPC
Time taken out of programme for experience or a career break will not count towards training and the trainees CCT date will be adjusted accordingly
Trainees considering taking time out of a training programme are required to discuss their intentions and gain approval from their Training Programme Director and Educational Supervisor before making an application to the HEE local team.
Once a provisional discussion has taken place with the Educational Supervisor and TPD, trainees must fully complete an OOP application form (available to download at the bottom of this webpage), obtain all required electronic approval signatures before submitting to the HEE local team for final approval, along with the required supporting documents.
We ask that OOP applications are submitted with 6 months’ notice where possible. This ensures time for any potential GMC applications to be made by the HEE local team. Once processing has taken place and final HEE approval has been sought trainees will then be required to give 3 months’ notice to their current Trust or Practice if they are leaving the programme (this notice period is factored into the 6 months’).
Final authorisation must be obtained from the HEE local team prior to leaving the programme.
Essential Supporting Documents
A brief overview of planned activities whilst out of programme must be submitted with ALL OOP applications.
The following documents are also required depending on what OOP category the trainee is applying for:
OOPT / OOPR with time to count
- - Letter supporting time to count from Royal College / JRCPTB / JCST
- Job Description and/or Research Proposal (if available at time of application)
OOPT / OOPR without time to count
- Job Description and/or Research Proposal (if available at time of application)
AUC (only if acting up as a Consultant in a post that may not meet the current curriculum)
- Letter supporting acting up post from Royal College / JRCPTB / JCST
- Job Description (if available at time of application)
For any trainee requesting OOPT or OOPR with time to count towards training, Royal College / SAC approval is required in the form of a letter. It is the trainee's responsibility to obtain this approval letter in good time and submit it to HEE along with their OOP application form. Once HEE is in receipt of this approval letter and the fully completed OOP application form, an application to the GMC will be made on the trainee's behalf (see GMC FAQs below).
Please note: The Joint Royal College of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) and Faculty of Public Health will only provide supporting approval of time to count towards training for placements that are not already included on the list of GMC approved settings. If you are unsure whether your placement is already on this list, either contact the GMC or alternatively the HEE, EoE OOP team will be able to check this for you.
If OOPT / OOPR is not counting towards training Royal College / SAC approval is not required. Nor is it required for OOPE and OOPC applications.
For any trainee requesting OOPT or OOPR with time to count towards training, GMC approval is required prospectively, prior to the commencement of the OOP placement.
Please note: HEE takes no responsibility for OOP applications that are submitted by trainees retrospectively and subsequently rejected by the GMC.
If OOPT / OOPR is not counting towards training GMC approval is not required. Nor is it required for OOPE and OOPC applications.
The GMC cannot accept applications from individual trainees, Royal Colleges, Speciality Advisory Committees or Faculties.
If GMC approval is required, this must be sought by HEE local team staff on behalf of the trainee. This will only be possible once all required documentation has been received from the trainee (fully completed OOP application form, supporting statement, job description or research proposal and College support letter).
No. However, trainees must ensure their Educational Supervisor, TPD and Trust / GP Practice are aware of their intentions. We also ask trainees to email the HEE local programme & information team (firstname.lastname@example.org)confirmation of their maternity dates, so their electronic HEE records can be updated accordingly.
A clarification on matters raised by a recent query via DNUK regarding pensions whilst undertaking OOPR has been circulated by the BMA. Guidance on a number of LETB websites was indicating that doctors would have to pay both their own and their employers pension contributions whilst out of programme.
In essence, however, the situation is more complicated than the advice on websites implies and depends on the status of the trainee in the university whilst they undertake their research. It is the BMA's understanding that in most cases they are employed by the university. This should mean that the advice on the websites is not correct. The Pensions Department have, therefore, advised as follows:
- If the trainee becomes employed by a University, they may be able to maintain NHS pension scheme membership under a direction arrangement. The University can pay pension contributions under the direction arrangements to the NHS pension scheme.
- If the period is part of their training programme and the doctor still has an NHS contract of employment and is paid by the NHS then they can remain a member of the NHS pension scheme.
- If the period of research is neither of these, and the employer classes it just as a career break, if the trainee wants the period to be pensionable they will have to pay the contributions in accordance with the NHS Pensions Career Breaks policy.
It seems that the assumption was being made that all those undertaking OOPR are taking a career break which was not the understanding of the BMA.
As stated in the Gold Guide:
- OOPT will normally be for a period of up to one year.
- OOPE will normally be for a period of up to one year.
- OOPR Time taken out for research purposes is normally for a higher degree (e.g. a PhD, MD or Master’s degree) and will not normally exceed three years.OOPR exceeding three years will only be granted in highly exceptional circumstances and requires specific prospective approval from the Postgraduate Dean.
- OOPC The duration of OOPC will normally be a period of up to one year. A second year of OOPC can be considered but is at the discretion of the Postgraduate Dean, who may take into account prior OOP periods for other reasons. Any further extension beyond a two-year period out of training may only be granted in exceptional circumstances with the agreement of the Dean.