Trainees told Health Education England (HEE) that existing out of programme mechanisms (out of programme experience [OOPE], out of programme research [OOPR], out of programme career break [OOPC] and out of programme training [OOPT]) provided a degree of flexibility, however none of these mechanisms recognised that trainees sometimes wish to “pause” their training to undertake an NHS non-training post, gain further experience, take stock of their training, work in another related specialty etc.

Equally, trainees told HEE that they felt frustrated about the inability to count competencies or time in non-training posts, when they had left and at a later stage returned to training. Out of programme pause (OOPP) differs from out of programme for experience (OOPE) because in OOPE, none of the experiences or competencies/capabilities gained whilst OOPE are directly counted toward CCT.

Out of programme pause therefore allows trainees to step out of formal training for up to two years and have any competencies gained whilst out of training assessed upon their return. This may allow trainees to minimise the impact on the time out of programme has on their CCT date.