Study Leave Guidance for Foundation Doctors in Severn

1. Introduction

Study leave (SL), including the core teaching programmes delivered at both Trust and Regional level, should be used to support the acquisition of the outcomes set out in the Foundation Curriculum and to enable foundation doctors to explore career options.

This guidance is set within the foundation operational guide, the junior doctor contract, and the general South West Study Leave Guidance.

The specifics of the foundation guidance support the general principles of the South West Study Leave Guidance; both can be read together.

2. Scope of the guidance

2.1 The guidance relates to DiTs in foundation posts within the Peninsula and Severn Foundation Schools’ LEPs.
2.2 Each LEP is expected to share this study leave guidance to explain the entitlement and support foundation doctors to apply for study leave in line with this guidance and those published by NHSE.

3. Study leave principles

3.1 According to the UKFPO:

  1. Study leave will normally be granted flexibly and tailored to individual needs, in accordance with the requirements of the curriculum.
  2. Conferences/courses outside of the UK will not normally be supported. Support will be considered for DiTs attending an overseas conference to deliver an oral or poster presentation. These applications require Head of School approval.
  3. Study leave for Foundation Year 1 doctors (maximum 15 days) will take the form of a regular scheduled teaching/training session as agreed locally.

    FY1 doctors may also borrow up to 5 days of Foundation Year 2 Programme study for the following: leave for tasters to inform future career decision making, to present a paper at a conference, a reason approved by the Head of School
  4. Study leave for Foundation Year 2 doctors (maximum 30 days) will include regional teaching days and periods of regular scheduled teaching/training sessions delivered locally. For many, no additional support will be needed. Study leave may also include (subject to agreed level of approval – see appendix): 
    • An approved external course aligned to the curriculum: this includes ALS or equivalent (unless already completed in FY1) and occasionally other activity intended to support Foundation Doctors achieve their curriculum outcomes.
    • Study leave should not be used to prepare for specialty examinations during foundation training but may be used to take a specialty examination. Requests for such leave shall be viewed positively in most circumstances, but with a view to ensuring that the needs of service delivery can be safely met.
  5. Study leave days which have not been allocated to the generic teaching programme, taster sessions and ALS (or equivalent) may be taken if this is consistent with maintaining clinical services. Study leave must be agreed in advance to avoid disruption to services. The study leave application must be supported by the educational supervisor, foundation programme director or Head of School as indicated in the guideline appendix.

3.2 Applications should be submitted with a minimum of six weeks’ notice to allow time for approval to take place. An application should not be regarded as approved until a confirmation email has been received from the LEP postgraduate medical education team.

3.3 LEPs will be reimbursed for approved study leave expenses only if approval follows published guidelines from NHSE and the Peninsula/Severn Foundation School. Where aspirational courses are approved, this should include the level of expenses. This may be anything from no expenses to 100%. LEPs should establish the level of funding before reimbursing the DiT.

3.4 Each LEP will contribute to the regional F2 teaching programme. F2s should attend a minimum of 4 days from the F2 Regional Teaching Programme. Study leave should be booked with sufficient notice to attend. Each LEP should also provide local foundation teaching for the F2s although this would not need to be every week. This is to ensure that DiTs receive an equivalent level of formal teaching regardless of the LEP in which they are training.

3.5 2 days’ study leave should be allocated for ALS (or equivalent) training in F1 or F2

3.6 5 days’ study leave should be allocated for Tasters only, which can be taken in F1 (please also see 3.10 below). The allocation for Tasters cannot be transferred into other leave i.e. if the DiT chooses not to use 5 days’ study leave for Tasters, then the leave will lapse. DiTs can use more than 5 days’ leave for Tasters up to a maximum of 10 days.

3.7 Each Foundation doctor should have access to two half days of simulation training each year. F1 simulation training should be delivered as part of the generic teaching programme; F2s may be expected to use study leave to attend.

3.8 F2 doctors may be granted study leave to sit postgraduate exams, however no study leave can be taken for preparation for the same.

3.9 Doctors who train on a less than full-time basis will have the same entitlements to be used during their full-time equivalent training period. This means, for example, that an F2 completing the programme on a less than full time basis over 2 years will have one year’s full-time entitlement across those 2 years.

3.10 F1 doctors can take up to 5 days’ study leave for Tasters, in which case their study leave allowance in F2 will be reduced to 25 days. For academic F1s, these 5 days will be used to support their additional educational activities and will not be available for Tasters.

3.10.2 The LEPs will be responsible for recording the study leave that has been taken, so that this can be monitored across the programme.

3.10.3 F1 DiTs have no study leave budget.

3.11 There should be no deduction from the study leave allowance for departmental teaching as it is not targeted to the foundation curriculum, not provided equally across all posts and trusts, and the education centre has no control over whether it happens.

3.12 Where applications are made for study leave to attend educational courses that also have a large element of free time as part of the programme, study leave should only be granted for the time associated with the formal educational content of the course e.g. this might mean that, for a week’s course, it would be appropriate to approve 3 days as study leave and the DiT would need to take 2 days annual leave in order to attend.

3.13 Conferences/courses outside of the UK will not normally be supported. Support will be considered for DiTs attending an overseas conference to deliver an Oral, poster or paper where the F2 is an author or co-author. These applications require Head of School approval.

3.14 Specialised Foundation Programme DiTs study leave requests relating to their academic work or studies will be considered even if not on the approved course list, provided the request is supported by their academic supervisor.

3.15 It is highly unlikely that more than 2 courses or events categorised as “Cat 3 Professional Development” on the Deanery Course list (see website) will be agreed unless it is to present an Oral, poster or paper where the F2 is an author or co-author.

3.16 Study Leave should be taken throughout the year and not saved to take all in one placement e.g., in their community placement block.

3.17 Whilst there is no set maximum on the amount of funding we can provide, we do not have unlimited funds. We therefore must be fair to all Foundation Doctors and any requests will consider any previously agreed funding already claimed by a doctor submitting a claim.

Summary table for use of F2 study leave time

Recommended use of total study leave time

5 days teaching (30 hours core teaching):

Suggest minimum 4 days (24 hours) from regional teaching Maxcourse programme plus an additional 6 hours foundation-specific teaching (30 hours total)

Some regional teaching days may attract 8 hours credit; see Maxcourse description

1 day simulation training (may be delivered in 2 half days)
5 days Tasters (which can be taken in F1 for Taster and/or 1 day career planning)
ALS (2 days)

4. Tasters

4.1 The purpose of a taster experience is to enable the doctor to gain a small amount of clinical experience in a specialty in which they have not worked whilst a medical student or foundation DiT; enable the doctor to explore in closer detail what a career in a specialty might entail – skills, attitudes, behaviours, essential aptitudes; compare the taster specialty with others already experienced; meet clinicians and explore career pathways in “unusual” specialties and settings; explore opportunities available in small specialties and those specialties which have traditionally been undersubscribed.

4.2. The Foundation School has agreed that tasters can be taken in specialities that the DiT will do later in their rotation (i.e. to help their decision-making prior to the specialty training application period) or has worked in previously; however, in the latter circumstances, the taster should be geared towards covering areas in which the DiT was not able to gain experience from a previous post e.g. seeing the range of work a consultant does in that specialty.

4.3 The main purpose of tasters is to help career decision making with regard to a specialty for which a DiT might apply. They are not for ‘CV building’ exercises such as demonstrating commitment to training in a particular region or focussing entirely on areas of work with weak links to the main specialty.

4.4 DiTs applying for tasters should be asked to submit a clear set of learning objectives and their PDP should reflect how the taster supports future career aspirations/decision making. A significant part of a taster should be about experiencing the role of the Consultant.

4.5 The length of a taster will vary depending on the learning objectives. A taster should last no longer than 5 days.

4.6 A taster should be taken within the DiTs current hospital if it is offered there; a taster may be undertaken only within the footprint of the School unless that specialty is not offered in the region or tasters in that specialty are not supported locally.

4.7 A DiT can take a maximum of 5 days’ taster experience in any single 4 month post. This is to minimise the impact of DiT absence on their post-specific learning and service provision.

5. Professional Leave

The following guiding principles were agreed following discussions and in agreement with the BMA in February 2022.

5.1 Any requests for Professional Leave should not be taken out of the days allocated to the existing study leave allowance.

5.2 Leave for interview attendance should always be granted unless exceptional circumstances and the rota coordinators given as much notice as possible.

5.3 Other professional leave (in line with professional leave given to consultant grade colleagues) is granted only at the discretion of the trust FPD.

5.4 Days for trade union activity (e.g., BMA Rep) should only be taken in accordance with an established recognised agreement with the employer and only if the DiT is able to be released. It would be considered under the same basis as leave given for aspirational study leave.

5.5 Please see the separate policy on Reservists Leave

APPENDIX: Guideline for approving foundation study leave

Applications must be submitted a minimum of 6 weeks before the activity.

Applications can only be approved by a Foundation Programme Director (FPD) or Head of School.

Educational supervisors can only approve study leave applications from foundation doctors to undertake up to 10 days’ taster experience across the two-year foundation programme.

No approval will be given for retrospective applications

Applications will fall into two categories:

1. Courses/activities aimed at developing foundation curriculum / skills:
An indicative list is included below. This is comprehensive but may not be complete. If an FPD is not sure if the course or activity is appropriate to this category, then approval should move to the Head of School. Please see the deanery course list: South West Deanery Course List

  • ALS (or equivalent)
  • NLS/PROMPT (only if neonates undertaken as a placement within foundation programme)
  • Train the trainer / teach the teacher 
  • Expenses to facilitate DiT to present a poster or oral presentation at a UK Conference
  • National UKFPO foundation conference
  • Time only to attend a postgraduate examination (not for private study)
  • Xray / radiology skills for junior doctors
  • F2 Regional Teaching days (advertised on Maxcourse)
  • Any conference specifically aimed at foundation doctors

In addition, it would be expected that educational supervisors support study leave applications from FY1s to undertake up to 5 days taster experience.

2. Courses/activities intended to support future career intentions:

  • These activities will only be supported if the DiTs ePortfolio is on track for a successful outcome at ARCP. This will be assessed by the FPD or FSD.
  • It must be clear to the FPD or FSD how the activity will support future career intentions. This should be done through a written supporting statement. The career intention must be included in a PDP on the ePortfolio and be discussed with the ES or FPD.
  • Where possible, experience should be gained through local training/activities before supporting travel to other regions.
  • In some cases, part-funding may be considered – reflecting both NHSE and the DiT’s commitment to their enrichment. Some applications may only receive support for study time with no funding.

Courses/activities for FPD approval: obvious alignment to a recognised specialty


  • Life support courses e.g., ATLS, APLS, EPLS etc
  • Surgical skill courses e.g., BSS
  • Attendance at non foundation conferences without presentation
  • Specialised Foundation Programme DiT requests for academic related activity - so long as the request has been supported by their Academic Supervisor.

Courses / activities requiring HoS approval: no direct alignment to recognised specialty

  • FPD unsure of relevance to an individual’s career intention
  • Non UK activity
  • wilderness and extreme medicine
  • sports medicine
  • Climate change courses
  • Diving / hyperbaric medicine courses
  • Humanitarian aid courses
  • Global medicine courses
  • Courses aimed at specialised areas with a base specialty