Time Out of Programme (OOP)


There are a number of circumstances when a Foundation doctor may seek to spend some time out of the training programme to which they have been appointed. All such requests need to be agreed by the Foundation School in advance so Foundation doctors are advised to discuss their proposals as early as possible.

Occasions where OOP is granted to Foundation doctors are likely to be exceptional given the length and nature of their training. The duration of time out of the Foundation Programme will usually be 12 months to avoid foundation doctors becoming out of phase with the foundation programme. Foundation schools will typically only approve OOP at the end of F1 so that the time out is taken between the end of F1 and the beginning of F2. Time out during F1 or F2 placements will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

F1 doctors should be aware that the GMC has made an important change to the way doctors can use their provisional registration. From 1 April 2015, the length of time doctors are allowed to hold provisional registration is limited to a maximum of 3 years and 30 days. Further information can be found at GMC | Provisional Registration.

If the Foundation doctor does not contact the Foundation School Director (FSD) as agreed, the foundation school is no longer required to hold a F2 programme and the foundation doctor would need to apply for a vacant F2 appointment in open competition.

Please note that in exceptional circumstances applications received outside the specified application window will be considered. For more information, please contact the Foundation School Manager at england.sevoundation.sw@nhs.net.

The purpose of taking OOP is to support the Foundation doctor in:

  1. undertaking a period of research (e.g. leading to an MD or PhD degree) (OOPR)
  2. taking a planned career break (OOPC)

Foundation doctors must maintain their licence to practise while on OOP, as well as their connection with HEE SW for the purposes of revalidation, and might be at risk of training contract withdrawal if they do not.

The Foundation School cannot guarantee the date or the location of the Foundation doctor's return placement. It is therefore important that Foundation School is advised well in advance of a Foundation doctor's wish to return to clinical training. The Foundation School will attempt to identify a placement as soon as possible but Foundation doctors should indicate their intention and preferred time of return as soon as they are able to do so.

If a Foundation doctor, having indicated that they are returning to the training programme, subsequently declines the place offered, then there is no guarantee that another place can be identified although every effort will be made to do so. Under these circumstances (but following discussion with the relevant FTPD and the Foundation School Director), the trainee may need to relinquish their training contract. Employing organisations need to be party to any decisions by trainees to relinquish their training contract so that they can manage their service needs, and so that the process is timely and fair.


  1. In the first instance, discuss your plans with your Educational Supervisor and Trust Foundation Programme Director. 

  2. Complete the TOFP application form, and obtain the signatures required. 

  3. Your completed form and supporting documentation must be submitted to the Foundation School Manager via england.sevfoundation.sw@nhs.net

  4. Incomplete or incorrectly completed forms will not be considered. 

  5. The Foundation School will notify you of the outcome of your application. 

  6. If you are unsuccessful, you may lodge an appeal against the decision.