Introduction
Scope of policy
Applying for time out of programme (OOP)
Reasons for oop being refused
Taking time out programme for approved Clinical training (OOPT)
Taking time out of programme for Clinical experience (OOPE)
Taking time out of programme for  Research (OOPR)
Appeals

*For applications for time out of programme for career breaks (OOPC) please refer to the Career Break policy*

Introduction

Postgraduate Doctors in training may seek to spend some time out of the specialty training programme to which they have been appointed.
There are four different categories for time out of programme:

OOPT: Time out of programme for approved clinical training

For those wishing to undertake GMC prospectively approved clinical training which is not available within the trainee’s specialty training programme and it is to be used towards a CCT award.

OOPE: Time out of programme for clinical experience

For those wishing to gain experience which is not approved by the GMC and which will not contribute to award of a CCT.

OOPR: Time out of programme for research

For those wishing to take time out for research purposes, normally for a higher degree, e.g. PhD or MD.

OOPC: Time out of programme for career breaks

For those who require to step out of training for a designated period for situations such as domestic responsibilities, ill-health or to develop talents in other areas. (Please refer to the Career Break Policy).

Scope of the Policy

This policy covers all Specialty Registrars in Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education.

Applying for Time Out of Programme (OOP)

Time out of programme (OOP) will not normally be agreed until a trainee has been in a training programme for at least one year, unless at the time of appointment deferral at the start of the programme has been agreed, e.g. for statutory reasons.

Trainees undertaking fixed term specialty training appointments cannot request time out of their fixed term appointment.

Trainees requesting OOP should give the Postgraduate Dean as much notice as possible and not less than six months from the date that they wish to leave the scheme.

If out of programme time is agreed, the relevant section of the OOP application form must be signed by the trainee’s educational supervisor, Training Programme Director and Postgraduate Dean (or deputy).

Trainees should try to ensure that their period of OOP takes place well before their CCT date. Approval for applications for OOP will only be granted up to CCT date; trainees must then decide whether they wish to return to the programme for the period of grace or relinquish their national training number from their CCT date.

Any extension to the OOP beyond the date that they have initially applied for will only be granted in exceptional circumstances and an additional OOP application form will need to be submitted at least 6 months prior to the extension commencing.

Health Education South West will not fund or part fund any post outside of the training programme. It is the trainee’s responsibility to ensure they are happy with the funding arrangements before they take up the post.

The only exception to this is where there is a sub-specialty training component that is not available within the Peninsula Training Programme and there are demonstrable benefits to our programme and the NHS in allowing trainees to undertake this training. In such circumstances a trainee may continue to draw a salary from their employing Trust provided they are not in receipt of another income and the employer agrees not to replace them with a Locum Appointment for Training.

Excess travel and removal expenses need to be discussed with the host LETB or Institution as Health Education South West will not fund any expenses.

Reasons for OOP Being Refused

If a trainee has received an outcome 2, 5 or RITA D at their most recent ARCP / RITA, a period of OOP will not be granted unless it can be demonstrated that their specific training objectives have been or will be met.

If a trainee has an outcome 3 or RITA E in force then they will not be entitled to take up a period of OOP.

If a trainee is in their final year of training applications for out of programme research (OOPR) or Out of Programme Experience (OOPE) will not usually be granted if it will result in a delay for their CCT date.

Taking Time Out of Programme for Approved Clinical Training (OOPT)

The GMC must prospectively approve the clinical training if it is to be used towards a CCT award. This will include, for example, undertaking an approved training post in a different training programme in the UK, but could also include overseas posts which have prospective training approval.

To obtain prospective approval for a period of out of programme training trainees are required to submit a brief description of the following along with the OOP Application Form:

  • Where the OOPT is based;
  • The structure of the OOPT;
  • The educational goals and characteristics of the OOPT;
  • Confirmation that the OOPT is subject to quality management procedures in line with the GMC Generic Standards for Training.

Clinical training that has not been prospectively approved cannot contribute towards the award of a CCT and will not be out of programme training (OOPT) but may be appropriate as out of programme experience (OOPE).

Trainees can take time out of programme and credit time as an “acting up” consultant if this has been prospectively approved by the GMC. Trainees acting up 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 and knowledge required by the curriculum.

OOPT will normally be for a period of one year in total but, exceptionally, can be up to two years.

Trainees who undertake OOPT must submit the assessments required by the specialty curriculum to the annual review panel. This is to ensure the trainee keeps in touch with the LETB and relevant Royal College / Faculty and renews their commitment and registration to the training programme. It will also provide information about the trainee’s likely return date and estimated date for completion of training.

Taking Time Out of Programme for Clinical Experience (OOPE)

Applications for OOPE are for trainees wishing to undertake clinical experience which has not been approved by the GMC and which will not contribute to award of a CCT.

Trainees should apply through the OOP Application Form and provide a brief description of the clinical experience you are planning to undertake.

Trainees may take time out of programme to gain experience as a locum consultant which cannot be credited towards training.

OOPEs will normally be for one year in total, but can be extended for up to two years with the agreement of the Postgraduate Dean (or deputy). The OOP Application Form should be returned on an annual basis whilst the trainee is out of programme providing information about the trainee’s likely return date.

Taking Time Out of Programme for Research (OOPR)

A trainee will need to seek prospective agreement of the Postgraduate Dean (or deputy) to undertake research or an appropriate higher degree.

Time taken out for research purposes is normally for a registered higher degree and will not normally exceed three years.

Trainees should apply through the OOP Application Form and where registered for a higher qualification (e.g. MD / PhD) should include a copy of a letter indicating that they have been enrolled for a higher degree.

Time spent out of a specialty programme for research purposes will be recognised towards the award of a CCT when the relevant curriculum includes such research as an optional element. Both the College / Faculty and Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education must support the application for prospective approval.

When OOPR does not count towards CCT requirements, GMC approval is not required.

The relevant section of the OOP Application Form should be returned on an annual basis to the annual review panel along with a research supervisor’s report indicating that appropriate progress is being made. This is to ensure the trainee keeps in touch and renews their commitment and registration to the training programme. It will also provide information about the trainee’s likely return date and estimated date for completion of training.

Appeals

Trainees who have their request for OOP refused have the right of appeal against the decision.

An Appeal is an opportunity to question a decision, or complain about treatment which a trainee considers to be unfair. An Appeal will allow all parties to have the case heard before an independent panel, and a decision to be reached on the facts that have been presented.

The process can be used to appeal the refusal of access to the OOP policy.

It should not be used for:

Issues with the employing Trust, or equivalent body, relating to terms and conditions and contract of employment.

Before beginning the full appeals process Trainees and Deans (or nominated deputy) must first jointly attempt to resolve the issues of concern informally including, if you wish, your union representative in these discussions. If, after due consideration, the matter can be resolved without recourse to the appeals procedure, then this agreement should be confirmed in writing. If agreement cannot be reached you will then have recourse to the formal appeals process.

Registering an Appeal

Submit your appeal, in writing, using a copy of the Notification of Appeal Form F. It is the trainees’ responsibility to ensure the completed form is submitted to the relevant Manager; therefore it is advisable that proof of postage is obtained at the time of sending.

In addition a Statement of Case should be attached to your Notification of Appeal.

A Statement of Case should include:

  • The grounds/reason for the appeal
  • A simple list of events, in date order.
  • Copies of all relevant correspondence and written evidence
  • Details of any witnesses to be used.

Send it to the Postgraduate Dean, within 20 working days of the decision about which you wish to appeal being made.

Process Following an Appeal Being Registered

You will be invited to attend an appeal hearing which will be held within 15 working days of submission of the appeal.

You will be given a minimum of five working days notice of the appeal hearing date, which will be confirmed to you in writing.

The representative(s) from Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education, who made the initial decision regarding your application will also be required to provide a Statement of Case, to be submitted to the Postgraduate Dean at least 10 working days before the hearing.

The Postgraduate Dean will ensure that panel members receive the papers as soon as possible, and in any case at least five working days before the hearing.

Both parties will be given copies of the other’s Statement of Case at least five working days before the hearing.

The Appeal Panel

An independent appeals panel will hear your Appeal.

The appeals panel will comprise five members as follows:

  • One representative from Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education (normally the Dean) who will normally chair the Appeal
  • Human resources professional (either an independent practitioner or from within a healthcare organisation within Devon and Cornwall)
  • One doctor in training nominated by the BMA
  • One independent external assessor nominated by Health Education South West. This could be a Medical Staffing Manager at a Trust where the trainee is not currently working
  • A Consultant in an educational role (i.e. Head of School or Royal College Adviser)

A person other than a panel member will keep an accurate record of the proceedings.

You will have the right to be represented by a representative of your professional organisation or trade union. Your representative may also be a work colleague, friend or any other person, other than someone acting in the capacity of a legally qualified practitioner.

The panel will listen to both sides of the argument and then reach a balanced decision based upon the evidence that has been presented.

The panel members will not have been involved in the original decision that gave rise to the appeal.

The panel will have the discretion to co-opt external advisors in appropriate circumstances.

How the Appeal is carried out

The Appeal will be a meeting between the panel, a representative from Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education who made the initial decision and the appellant. Any witnesses, representatives or companion may also be invited to the meeting with prior consent from the Chair of the panel.

At the meeting the appellant, or their representative, will be given the opportunity to put forward the reason for the Appeal. Any evidence additional to that included in the statement of case may be presented at this time, subject to sufficient time being allowed for both sides and the panel to consider it fully.

The representative from Peninsula Postgraduate Medical Education who made the initial decision will be given the opportunity to explain why the decision was made. They may also submit any further evidence not included in the Statement of Case, as long as both sides and the panel are allowed sufficient time to consider it fully.

Each side will have the opportunity to question the other on issues of fact.

At any time during the appeal a request can be made by either party for an opportunity to meet privately with their representatives to consider any matter which may help in clarifying or resolving the Appeal.

Decision of the Appeal

The decision of the panel, and the reasons for making that decision, will normally be announced at the end of the Appeal; this decision will be confirmed in writing within ten working days.

The decision of the panel is final.

You may seek the advice of your union representative at any stage during this procedure.