Severn School of O&G Statement on Out Of Programme (OOP)


The Severn School of O&G has a strong history of supporting our trainees in taking an Out Of Programme (OOP) period in their training. We firmly believe that it can be an enriching and beneficial experience for the trainee, especially in a 7-year run-through training programme.

The School would wish to continue supporting OOP, and will do so, but in the context of considering the effect on the whole training programme and in particular, the wellbeing of the individual trainees remaining in the programme.

When a trainee takes an OOP, it inevitably leaves a gap in the rotation. These “gaps” are spread fairly around the region, but in the current climate of being unable to appoint “locum for training” posts, it is often impossible to find “locum for service” or clinical fellows to fill these posts. The appointment of Medical Training Initiative (MTI) doctors has helped some, but not all hospitals. Many of our hospitals have championed innovative ways to fill the “gaps”, but the disappointing fact is, it is getting harder to do so.  These “gaps” inevitably have a detrimental impact on the working environment and hence the training provided in individual hospitals. There is also concern regarding the effect that a reduced number of junior doctors has on patient safety. As a school, our primary responsibility lies firmly with patient safety and the provision of quality training

As Head of School, I have explored and actively tried to increase our training numbers on the grounds that attrition, OOP, maternity leave and academic clinical training deplete the number of trainees in active training by up to 50% at times. My efforts are increasingly unsuccessful, as I am fighting a tide of opinion from both the RCOG and the Workforce Planning Department, that we are training too many Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK.

We have always asked trainees for a mandatory 6-month notice period for application for OOPR/OOPE/OOPC, reduced to a minimum of 3 months for an OOPR (funded by a nationally competitive personal grant and for a higher degree), or an OOPT (for Sub-Spec Training only/ ATSM Advanced Laparoscopy). 

We must however look carefully at OOP requests. The Deanery will presently support OOP requests up to a limit of 25% OOP at any one time, this limit will depend on the number of trainees available for active training ST3-7, in that particular year. With this limit in mind we need to assess OOP requests in terms of priority.  The prioritisation is:

  1. OOPC For significant personal issues with full support from the Trainee Support Unit
  2. OOPT Training (where specific training is not available within the Severn Deanery)
  3. OOPT Training (sub-specialty training programme/ ATSM Advanced lap)
  4. OOPR Research (nationally competitive personal grant funded and for higher degree)
  5. OOPR Research (nationally competitive project grant funded for higher degree)
  6. OOPR Research (trust/local grant/other institution funded for higher degree)
  7. OOPE Research (research experience only, no higher degree)
  8. OOPE Experience (experience to enhance a career in O&G, not offered within the Severn O&G training programme)
  9. OOPC Career Break (worthwhile life experience to pursue other interests, beneficial to character development)
  10. OOPC Other reasons different from above
  11. *OOPP Pause (As part of our response to the current COVID emergency, HEE has developed a new offer for doctors in training)

UK employment rights allow unpaid parental leave of up to 18 weeks for each child.  Officially this right needs to be taken up with the employer (the Trust), not the Deanery, but in the past we have labelled this with an “OOPC”.

It is only fair to warn trainees that requests for OOP for items 7-10 above are unlikely to be granted.

Applications for an OOP will be considered by the Postgraduate Dean after submission of the OOP application form.  Applications will be reviewed by the school of O & G on 1st February and 1st August each year, so that prioritisation can take place.

For OOP commencing February 2022 to August 2022, applications need to be submitted by 4 August 2021, and applications for OOP commencing August 2022 to February 2023, by 2 February 2022.

Other applications with the appropriate notice period (see above), will be considered in the interim months, but can only be granted if the 25% threshold for OOP vacancies has not been reached. Special consideration will be given for OOPC in conjunction with the TSU.

*The application form and further information about an OOPP can be found here.