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Scotland Deanery

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Trainee information

Out of Programme (OOP)

Guidance for trainees wishing to take time out of their approved training programme for research, acting up, sabbatical or another reason.

Foundation, Specialty trainees including GP trainees (OOP)

Taking time out of programme is governed by the Gold Guide which sets out arrangements agreed by the four UK Health departments. All ‘Out of Programme’ must be prospectively approved by the Lead Dean/Director responsible for the programme and applications must include supporting documentation as described on the application and guidance form [DOCX].

All applications for Out of Programme (with the exception of Acting Up applications and OOPC) must be approved and confirmed at least 3 months before the scheduled start of any activity, this means that the request should be submitted at least 6 months before the start of OOP. You will be required to give your Programme Director (FPD/TPD), current and next employer a minimum of 3 months’ notice of undertaking a period of out of programme.

The application form must be signed by both the Educational Supervisor and the Programme Director (FPD/TPD).

The Educational Supervisor’s signature supports the request based on the discussions with the trainee AND confirms that the Placement Board will be able to accommodate the absence of the trainee for the period of the OOP request (where OOP will impact on current placement).

The Foundation/Training Programme Director’s signature denotes that release of the trainee will not adversely affect delivery of the programme to other trainees for the period of the OOP request.

These requirements must be adhered to and failure to follow the processes and timescales set within this application form are likely to result in a request for OOP being rejected.

For trainees with Visas, please check with the conditions of your visa before applying, as Home Office rules may preclude taking time out of programme.

OOP applications cannot be approved for trainees in their first year of training. Normally, OOP will not be approved in the final 3 months of training. In some exceptional circumstances, the Lead Dean/Director may exercise discretion regarding the timing of the OOP.

Trainees are advised to seek clarification from their employer regarding their pension contributions and any statutory rights and benefits whilst undertaking a period OOP.


Medicine: Application and guidance form for OOP/Acting Up [DOCX]

Dental: Please refer to Dental Gold Guide. Dental trainees should refer to the application form (Appendix 3) within the Dental Gold Guide and submit it to the Associate Postgraduate Dean.

Further information is available on the different types of OOP and Acting Up.

Guidance on OOPE (Experience)

Guidance on OOPR (Research) 

Guidance on OOPT (Training) 

Guidance on OOPC (Career Break)

Guidance on OOP Acting Up


Further information on OOP is available on the GMC website.


Deferral or Postponement to start of training programme

Currently deferral of training programme start date is only permitted for statutory reasons (ie sick leave/maternity/paternity/adoption leave and ill health). However, on exceptional occasion a short-term postponement may be of benefit to the trainee and training programme.

If you would like to be considered for either a deferral or postponement to start of training programme please carefully read the documents below which detail the eligibility criteria and application process. The general guidance document applies to all trainees however please ensure you also read the correct trainee process dependant upon which programme you have been appointed to. (ie Foundation process or Specialty/Core process). Once you have read the documents you should complete the application form below and follow the steps as per the relevant trainee process.

General Guidance Document

Trainee Process – Speciality/Core

Trainee Process – Foundation

Application Form (pdf or word)

If you have any questions please contact your training programme administrator. You may also wish to review the information on our Trainee Development and Wellbeing service pages. If it would be helpful to speak to one of the Associate Deans who work in the service you can request an appointment by using the contact us forms. There is information about the kind of topics the service might be able to assist you with online, but please be aware that our Associate Deans are unable to help with issues pertaining to Visas or arranging accommodation; matters such as these should be addressed by the relevant HR team dealing with your onboarding. 

This page was last updated on: 14.05.2024 at 14.25