Education and Training

The GMC has described the standards and requirements for training in its document “Promoting Excellence: standards for medical education and training”. It makes clear that protected time must be available and that for timetabled educational sessions this should be bleep-free. Requirement R1.16 states:

R1.16 Doctors in training must have protected time for learning while they are doing clinical or medical work, or during academic training, and for attending organised educational sessions, training days, courses and other learning opportunities to meet the requirements of their curriculum. In timetabled educational sessions, doctors in training must not be interrupted for service unless there is an exceptional and unanticipated clinical need to maintain patient safety

If you have concerns that you are unable to attend teaching because of service demand you should speak to your clinical or educational supervisor in the first instance.

Periods of formal study and teaching count as work.

Study leave

What am I entitled to?

The following trainees are entitled to 30 days of study leave per annum:

  • F2 (Foundation Year 2)
  • CT (core trainees)
  • LAT (locum appointment for training)
  • ST (specialty trainee)

The following groups are not entitled to study leave:

  • F1 (foundation year 1 trainee)*
  • OOP trainees (except for those on OOP (Training) posts within Scotland)
  • MTI (medical training initiative) trainees
  • LAS (locum appointments for service)
  • *F1 doctors are not eligible for study leave, although there are opportunities available for taster courses

Study budgets – how much can I apply for?

  • Whilst there is not a specified individual study leave funding entitlement for trainees, annual programme budgets are based on a Notional Annual Allocation (NAA) of £500.00 for trainees, managed by each programme director. Trainees are advised to apply for study leave if they have reached or are near this cap.
  • You can apply for fees/travel/accommodation/subsistence, but this needs to be approved by your Programme Director.
  • For more information on claiming expenses in relation to study leave activity and the Appeals procedure see the  NES study leave guidance for doctors and dentists in training

What if a study leave activity falls on a non-working day?

  • Study and teaching is work. Study leave and teaching attendance contribute to your hours worked and so it is reasonable to expect to receive a day in lieu for study undertaken on non-working day. This will stop you breaching EWTD or affecting banding for LTFT trainees.

Unable to take study leave?

  • Contact the educational supervisor in your board in the first instance to raise concerns and seek support.
  • If you are still unable to take study leave speak to a BMA adviser for support.

Less than full time training (LTFT)

What is LTFT?

Less than full time training (LTFT), also referred to as ‘flexible training’ is where you train on a part-time rather than a full-time basis. For LTFT trainees the proportion of the full-time training programme (for example majority of trainees LTFT train between 50-80% of full time) depends on factors such as the training grade and the individual circumstances.

The GMC has a minimum percentage requirement for doctors in LTFT training of no less than 50% of full-time training. In exceptional circumstances, postgraduate deans have flexibility to reduce the time requirement for LTFT training to less than 50% of full-time, however trainees should not normally undertake a placement at less than 50% for a period of more than 12 months. The GMC state that no trainee should undertake a placement at less than 20% of full-time.

The proportion of working hours is by agreement with you, the associate dean and TPD, as well as the health board (i.e the service).

How to apply for LTFT?

See here for further information on the application process. LTFT Application Process

It is advisable that you speak with the Associate Postgraduate Dean (APGD) for LTFT to discuss your eligibility before formally applying for LTFT training. 

Am eligible for LTFT training?

All trainees are eligible to apply for LTFT training – regardless of grade, specialty or gender.

However, well founded reasons for trainees to be granted to train LTFT are placed into two main categories to assess eligibility by the Deanery, however these categories are not exhaustive. Category 1 supporting those with childcaring and other responsibilities, health and Category 2 on individual developmental opportunities. Whilst those trainees applying to train LTFT will have priority support from the Deanery, access to Category 2 is dependent on individual circumstances and the availability of funding.

See further information on LTFT Eligibility & General Information

What if my application to LTFT has been unsuccessful?

Trainees should speak with your BMA representative, local BMA adviser in the first instance, and with the Deanery/NES to discuss this.

Trainees can formally appeal a decision to not grant an application for LTFT, and this should be done within 30 working days of receiving letter from the APGD.  See the Appeals Process. and Flowchart and Appeal Form.

What will the impact of training LTFT be?

When considering applying to train LTFT you might want to consider impact this may have:

  • financial implications of training less than full time – the banding system differs for full time and flexible trainees
  • On-call and out of hours commitments – these should be the pro-rata equivalent of a trainee in an equivalent training post (unless the reason you are training LTFT also means you cannot do on call and out of hours duties).
  • Annual leave – for LTFT it is calculated on a pro-rata basis
  • Study leave for LTFT is also calculated on a pro-rata basis of training commitments, but the entitlement is to the full study leave funding allocation.
  • Length of your training and your CCT date– if training LTFT your post will normally be longer than the full time equivalent, therefore overall your training programme will be extended. You should speak with the Deanery/NES to discuss how long your training will be extended for.

Read: BMA guidance on the Impact of LTFT on life and finances

Read: BMA guidance on banding and flexible trainees

See:  NES website for details of pay structure for LTFT trainees

Applying for specialty training

Whether you are applying to a specialty in secondary care, to general practice or to an academic post, make sure you have all the information you need when moving to the next stage of your medical training.  

Choosing your career path will have a huge impact on your professional and personal life, so think carefully. How you make this decision will depend on your aptitude, strengths, skills and interests, what you want to get out of a job and how much responsibility and commitment you want to take on. Other things to consider will include whether you want direct patient contact, research opportunities and how much flexibility you need. You should also find out the availability of opportunities for the specialty and how much competition there is for training places.

Find out more:  BMA members can access a range of learning and development resources from online learning to workshops 

Watch:  Try the BMJ Learning e-learning module Application to specialty training or watch the webinar

Read:    Information on applying for specialty training and General practice on the Scottish medical recruitment website

Appraisals for junior doctors – Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP)

What is the ARCP?

The Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) is an annual process where a panel of Deanery educationalists meet to:

  • Consider and approve the adequacy of the evidence and documentation provided by the junior doctor in accordance with the curricula for that specialty training programme
  • Make a judgement about the trainee’s suitability to progress to the next stage of training
  • Communicate the outcome to the trainee (should be in person if unsatisfactory)

What can you do?

Read: BMA guidance on the ARCP and tips to support junior doctors prepare

If you are not happy with the outcome of your ARCP, you should not sign anything. Be clear on your reasons why and the evidence you feel has been undermined or overlooked.

  • Make sure you know what the ARCP process is. If you believe it was not followed correctly you should record how and why you believe you have not been appropriately assessed in the event you need to appeal.
  • Most problems with ARCP are raised before the outcome is confirmed. If you are aware that an adverse outcome is possible, contact the BMA for further support (0300 123 1233) as early as possible.

Support for junior doctors

What to do if you are concerned or experiencing difficulties which affect your work and/or training


Key documents and guidance:

Gold Guide: A reference guide for Postgraduate Specialty Training in the UK

NES study leave guidance for doctors and dentists in training

Information via the NES Scotland Deanery on LTFT training:

Guidance for trainees who wish to train LTFT

LTFT Application Process

LTFT Eligibility & General Information

Further LTFT FAQs

Scotland Deanery ARCP process and ARCP dates for 2021