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Supporting doctors returning to training after time out


At any time, around 10% of the 50,000 trainee doctors in England are taking approved time out of training. This can be for a wide variety of personal and professional reasons, such as further training, caring responsibilities, ill health and research. 

SuppoRTT was developed to enable trainees to have a safe, supported return to work by offering a wide range of learning and support resources, which can be used to create a bespoke package of support which suits their individual needs.

“I know that there are a variety of reasons why a doctor might take approved time out of programme. In many cases it will also benefit their learning, for example, should they seek to develop their skills elsewhere.  These are highly committed, hard-working and intelligent individuals who want to get back into training, and it’s right that we value and support them to restore their skills and confidence.” Professor Wendy Reid, Health Education England Director of Education and Quality, and Medical Director

What can SuppoRTT offer? 

  • A period of enhanced supervision
  • Funding for a period of supernumerary time
  • Online and face-to-face refresher courses and simulation training
  • Mentoring or professional coaching
  • Conferences, workshops and webinars
  • Online learning resources
  • Funding for other courses or training, as individually required

How do I access SuppoRTT?

Time out of training is coordinated by local HEE offices. Get in touch with your local HEE team as soon as you know you will be taking time away, as this allows you to plan your time out and your return as much as possible. It is important to take the time to complete your pre-absence and pre-return forms if at all possible, because this is how SuppoRTT funding is made available.

You can access personalised advice and support through your local HEE office and you will be encouraged to develop an individualised 'return to training' package with your supervisor, using local HEE SuppoRTT Team processes.

The SuppoRTT programme offers resources for everyone returning to training: each regional HEE office offers a slightly different "menu", but because the programme is individually tailored, there is room to request additional resources if you feel that these would benefit you. Just talk to your supervisor about anything that you feel you need.

Local HEE offices: 

Here you can access local office pages for further information on SuppoRTT in your area.

SuppoRTT digital and online resources

Here you can get more information and access a comprehensive range of resources, designed to support trainees returning to work.

HEE engaged in an evidence-gathering exercise; engaging with trainees, medical Royal Colleges, the BMA Junior Doctor’s Council, trainers, educators, employers, HEE’s local offices, the Leadership Academy, patient representatives and the General Medical Council.

HEE received strong feedback that support for trainee returners is inconsistent across location and specialty. Returning to training after time out of practice is a challenging process and that the associated impact on confidence poses the main concern to trainees and trainers alike.

The biggest concern for returners was a lack of confidence in their clinical knowledge and technical skills when they returned to training after time out of programme. While some excellent examples of tailored and accessible support were provided for returners, trainees also reported:
 - a lack of guidance on the exit and re-entry process
 - a lack of contact with supervisors whilst out of training.
 - a breakdown in pastoral relationships resulting in no clear line of responsibility (who to approach to discuss Less Than Full-Time training, for instance)
 - support was only received when proactively sought out.

“After being OOP for over three years my confidence working in a clinical environment has reduced. I am specifically concerned about my how lack of confidence will affect my decision making, and worried that during busy on calls I will be indecisive and struggle to get things done” Clinical Research Fellow and ST5 in Respiratory and GIM

Webinar - Returning to Paediatrics training series: essentials to ensure a successful return to work following a break from clinical practice

Dr Trisha Radia and Dr Sarita Depani provide top tips to trainees who are on/are about to go on a clinical career break due to, for example, maternity, paternity or carer leave, OOPE, OOPR (out of programme education/research) or health reasons. 

Paediatric Return to Acute Clinical Practice (PRACP) Videos

Five videos developed by London Paediatrics covering topics: 
 - Less than full time training
 - Human factors
 - Returning to clinical practice - barriers and solutions
 - Sleep management
 - Serious incidents - a resource guide for trainees


Case study: Suzie Pomfret

Suzie Pomfret is an Education Fellow doing an MD in Medical Education, out of programme for research (OOPR). She also took time out of program for maternity leave (9 months) after the arrival of her son, Max and is due to go on maternity leave again soon.

Read Suzie's story
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