Flexibility in training

To apply for LTFT, an anaesthetist in training needs to hold a national training number (it is possible to apply during the recruitment process), and have a ‘well-founded’ individual reason. If this is for health reasons then an Occupational Health review is essential. At least 3 months’ notice is usually required.

Applications for LTFT are made to your Deanery, following discussion with your Educational Supervisor, College Tutor and Training Programme Director (TPD). Each school of anaesthesia has a lead for LTFT. The percentage of full time hours that anaesthetists in training works is agreed between the anaesthetist, TPD and Deanery. The College fully supports LTFT training in line with the arrangements set out in the Gold Guide.

The way that a LTFT trainee is accommodated within the training programme varies, but is determined primarily by capacity. Local arrangements will vary, and further information can be sought from the school of anaesthesia lead for LTFT, or the hospital Champion of Flexible Training.

Please contact the College's Membership Department to discuss subscription fees during periods of long-term leave and LTFT.

Useful resources:

Less than Full-Time Training: An A to Z Guide, has been developed in conjunction with the Association of Anaesthetists and can be viewed here [pdf].

An updated version of the TPD's guide to LTFT, developed in conjunction with the Association of Anaesthetists, can be viewed here [pdf].

RCoA Statement of Advice on Less Than Fulltime Training, as at November 2015, can be viewed here.

GMC position statement: conditions for LTFT training can be viewed here [external link].

BMA guidance on managing rotas and duty rosters can be viewed here [external link].

The most up-to-date version of the Gold Guide, that contains the rules governing flexibility in the training programme, can be viewed here [external link].

Anaesthetists may be away from their normal working environment for many reasons, and these periods of absence can extend for months or years. Anyone absent form their clinical workplace for longer than 3 months should discuss the need for a return to training package with their educational supervisor (ES).

Prior to planned leave (eg parental leave) it is important that the anaesthetist meets their ES to complete an interim progress report, and make a return to training plan. The HR department and TPD must also be informed.

The Deanery must also be notified. All deaneries have similar processes for managing returns to training. In England you also have access to SuppoRTT (Health Education England) [external link]. This is a funded body which offers a variety of modes of support for returning trainees and their supervisors.

You can listen to the RCoA podcast on Career breaks and return to work here: Dr Lucy Williams interviews Dr Jill Horn and Dr Caroline Kane.

Health Education England is working with the British Medical Association's Junior Doctors Committee, GMC, NHS Employers, and the Academy to address 10 key issues to enhance junior doctors working lives. Flexibility in training is an important part of this work.

You can access the resources published by Health Education England here [external link].

Training or Research (OOPT/R)

Some or all of this time counts towards training time and is determined at the point of application; this requires prospective approval by the Deanery, College, and GMC.  Reports must be submitted to the College on return to training.  Please find a copy of the application form below.

You can access the OOPT/R application form template here [pdf].

You can access the OOPT/R report template here [pdf].

Further information about the processes and rules for applying for OOPT and OOPR can be found in The Handbook for the 2021 curriculum here [pdf].

Pause (OOPP)

Some or all of this time may count towards training time, this is determined on the return to training; however, an OOPP placement must be approved by the School of Anaesthesia or Deanery prospectively.

Further RCoA guidance will be published soon.

Experience (OOPE)

Working in clinical practice that does not count towards training time. On return to training the anaesthetist must inform the College of the OOPE dates (email notification is acceptable) in order that a prospective completion date can be calculated

Career Break (OOPC)

Time out that does not count towards training.  On return to training the anaesthetist must inform the College of the OOPC dates (email notification is acceptable) in order that a prospective completion date can be calculated.

If you would like to contact us, you can email the Anaesthetics Curriculum and Equivalence Team on training@rcoa.ac.uk or call on 020 7092 1550.

Please let us know what you think. If you feel the information on this page could be improved, please get in touch with us.

Last reviewed: 10 January 2023
Next review due: 09 January 2024