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Flexible training options

Health Education England is committed to supporting medical trainees post COVID-19 by ensuring mechanisms are in place to support trainees’ wellbeing and educational provision, which forms a key part of our training recovery strategy.  To help support trainees, we are providing an enhanced, suite of flexibility offers shown below..

These options are available to all trainees who may want to consider, for example a break from full time work and training or to recover experience levels before moving to their next stage of training.


Less Than Full Time (LTFT) Training Category 3 allows trainees to request the opportunity to undertake a period of less than full time training out of their personal choice. LTFT Category 3 was initially made available in Emergency Medicine, Paediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynaecology and is being made available to all specialties to help support wellbeing over the course of the next year to help support wellbeing.

Read more about Less than Full Time Training


Out of Programme Pause (OOPP) is a new form of out of programme (OOP) initiative that is currently being piloted across HEE in post-graduate medical training. The scope of the pilot has been supported by the GMC.

OOPP allows trainees to step out of formal training for up to 12 months to undertake an NHS or other patient facing, UK based, non-training post. This flexibility initiative can be a vital tool to support trainee wellbeing.

OOPP also gives trainees the opportunity to have any capabilities gained whilst out of training assessed upon their return to the training programme. These may contribute to their CCT (unlike the existing OOP Education option). This would be subject to the agreement of your Educational Lead and ARCP panels that these capabilities can be demonstrated once back in training.

If you are interested in OOPP, please speak to your educational supervisor and training programme director. Please also visit your HEE Local Office website for further information on the process.

Read more about the Out of Programme Pause programme


Out of the 50,000 doctors in England currently in postgraduate medical training, roughly 10% are taking time out of training at any one time. A doctor might take time out for a variety of personal or professional reasons, to gain additional experience or qualifications, or a career break.

A trainee’s time out of programme is co-ordinated by their local HEE office; including before, during and after their time out. Doctors returning to training can access personalised advice and support through their local HEE office. HEE has created resources for doctors returning to training, through which a trainee will develop their individualised 'return to training' package with their appropriate Educator/Supervisor using their local HEE SuppoRTT Team processes.

Each regional HEE office offers a slightly different menu of resources, but because the programme is individually tailored, there is room to request things which a trainee requires, providing it is approved by their Supervisors/Educators.

SuppoRTT can offer: 

- A period of enhanced supervision

- Refresher courses and simulation training

- Mentoring or professional coaching

- Conferences and workshops

- Funding for other courses or development, as individually required


Read more about the Supported Return to Training programme

Please visit your HEE Local Office website for further information on the application process.