Guidelines for Trainees

Click here to Apply for Out of Programme Experience

The usual purpose of time Out of Programme Experience (OOP) is to allow a Specialist Registrar

  • to gain clinical experience which is not a part of the trainee's specialty training programme in undertaking GMC prospectively approved clinical training which will count towards CCT(OOPT)
  • to gain clinical experience which is not approved by GMC but which may benefit the doctor (e.working in a different health environment/country) or help support the health needs of other countries as outlined in Global Health Partnerships: The UK contribution to health in developing countries (The Crisp Report)
  • to undertake a period of research
  • in taking a planned career break from the specialty training programme

If you are considering taking time out of your Specialist Registrar Training Programme, you must read the guidelines and complete the Application form.

Once completed, the form must be sent to, and then countersigned by, the Programme Director and then sent to Severn PGME so the Postgraduate Dean may consider your request.

Requests will not normally be considered unless at least 6-12 months notice is given.

Please complete all sections of the form fully and supply the relevant supporting information. If applying for an OOPT (Training) please send a copy of the relevant College/SAC approval with your application. If applying for OOPR (Research) please enclose a copy of the enrolment letter for the higher degree by research.

The Postgraduate Dean will be unable to consider your request without the correct information.
Please return the completed form to Becky Trainer.


These guidelines have been produced to help trainees consider all the relevant issues when looking to take time out of their training programme, in order to undertake a period of training or fellowship abroad, or in another LETB/Deanery, or to undertake a period of research.

The permission of the Postgraduate Dean must be obtained at least 6 months before leaving your current training programme. This is so that your Training Programme Director and employing Trust has time to plan for your time away.  The Dean can only consider requests which are on the correct application form and which have the support of the Programme Director, approval from the relevant College or Faculty and clearly state how your absence will be covered. Ideally, your time away will be before your CCT date, rather than cutting across it.

Time out of programme (OOP) will not normally be agreed until a trainee has been in and satisfactorily completed training programme for at least one year. Although eligible for OOP, the number of occasions when this is granted for core trainees are likely to be exceptional given the short period and nature of the training.

Trainees in their penultimate year of training are not normally expected to take OOP, with the expectation of OOPT in 'Acting up' Locum positions.  Exceptional trainees may be given approval for OOPT where this will lead to completion of CCT.  In this situation trainees will not normally be expected to return to the programme for their period of grace.

GMC has indicated that time out of programme to count to CCT must be in prospectively approved training posts or for other purposes additional experience (including periods of research training) but if it is not to count towards the award of a CCT then GMC approval of the posts or programme is not required. (Severn PGME approval will still be needed).
Severn PGME will apply for GMC approval on your behalf.

Please also refer to the Gold Guide.

The Severn PGME is keen to support trainees who wish to take time out of programme to work in developing countries with organisations such as Medicin's Sans Fronteriers, Voluntary Service Overseas and so forth, as set out in the "Crisp Report" Global Health Partnerships: The UK contribution to health in developing countries.

Although such experience may not always meet the requirements set out by the GMC and Colleges in terms of recognised training, Severn PGME believes that trainees have the potential to both contribute and gain enormously in such settings, and will support trainees and training programmes who wish to pursue such opportunities.

The GMC Out of Programme ( OOP ) Online Guide is now available.

The Process

  • Training opportunity arises, ideally well in advance (6 - 12 months). Discuss with Consultant / Educational Supervisor.
  • Discuss proposed plans with Training Programme Director.
  • Write to College / SAC / Faculty to gain prospective approval for the training proposed.
  • If Programme Director / STC Chair support your plans, complete the application form attached. This is to request permission to take time out of the training programme whilst retaining your NTN. You must outline what you will be doing whilst away and the dates, whether the training is recognised by your College and whether your Programme Director / STC Chair are supportive. Please also leave a contact address / email details for the period that you are away where possible.
  • The form must be countersigned by the Programme Director and then sent to the Deanery with the College/SAC/Faculty approval so the Postgraduate Dean may consider your request.
  • Be sure that you keep in regular contact with the Training Programme Director and Specialty Manager and that they are aware of your expected date of return to the training programme, so that adequate provision can be made for your return to the rotation.
  • If your period out of programme is to be spent at another Deanery, please be certain as to funding arrangements prior to accepting a position. The deanery will not fund training in another deanery. Normally, a trainee would only be allowed to train within another Deanery because that Deanery has a gap on their own training programme.
  • Ensure that you have an ARCP/Record of In-Training Assessment (RITA) review in the months prior to leaving. Whilst you are away the panel should receive documentation from you on the required form indicating what you are doing during your out of programme (OOP) time. If the trainee is out of programme on a GMC prospectively approved training placement which will contribute to the competences of the trainee's programme, then an OOPT document as well as in-work assessments etc. demonstrating the acquired competences should be made available to the panel in the usual way. If the purpose of the OOP is research the trainee must produce a research supervisor's report along with the OOPR indicating that appropriate progress in research is being made, in achievement of the registerable degree. Finally, if a doctor is undertaking a career break, a yearly OOPC requests should be sent to the panel, indicating that the trainee is still on a career break with their indicative intended date of return.

Further Points

ARCP 2,3,4 /RITA D/E

A trainee whose last ARCP was 2,3 or 4 or at RITA was a D or E, or who had unmet objectives at their Penultimate Year Assessment (PYA) will not normally be allowed to go out of programme, unless it can be demonstrated that specific training objectives will be met.


If a period of research of more than one year is requested, it should usually enable the trainee to submit for an appropriate higher qualification (eg MD / PhD) or should not normally exceed a maximum of three years out of programme. A copy of a letter indicating that you have been enrolled for a higher degree should be submitted with your application. Some Colleges allow part of a period of research to count towards CCT; you should check with your College if you wish to pursue this option prior to applying for your OOP. Trainees in their final year will not normally be allowed to undertake a period of research which will delay their CCT date.


This may not be the same as you get now. The Deanery is not able to make up any shortfall.


This is your responsibility.

Travel costs

These are your own responsibility. Please ensure if you are going to take up a training slot within a UK Deanery, that issues of travel/relocation/study leave are agreed with the host Deanery Personnel and/or Medical Staffing Department before you leave.

Pension Contributions / Continuous Service

These might be affected by a period abroad, or work away from the NHS - please check with the NHS Pensions Agency / Medical Personnel or Payroll department.
Please see the latest guidance on the NHS Employers website regarding the Employment Break Scheme.

Important Information - Changes to the NHS Pension Scheme

There has been a recent change to the NHS Pension Scheme which will have an impact on trainees going out of programme.
Click here for more information.
If you are planning on going out of programme, you are strongly advised to contact your current employing Trust and/or NHS Pensions to discuss how this may impact on your individual circumstances.

Third year

The scheme does not allow anyone to remain on it for longer than 2 years OOP.
The link to the pensions newsletter outlining this is here.

CCT Date

If you are away when your expected CCT date falls this might affect your 6 months period of grace and any request for further training time.
Ideally, you should return to the UK from any time away, before your CCT date.