Q1. When is it best for me to apply for GP if I am taking a year out of my training?

A1. The range of options for Step on Step off training including deferment now make it easier for trainees to take time out of the training programme.

Trainees should apply for GP training at the usual stage when they are eligible. If appointed through the GP selection process they can take time out of programme before they start the GP training programme (see guidance under SST Option 1- deferred start) by requesting a deferment. The trainee must indicate at time of application that they are interested in this option and formally apply to the relevant region within two weeks of acceptance of the GP specialty training programme offer.

If a trainee wants to take time out once the training programme has started they can apply for a range of out of programme options under SST options 2.1 – 2.2. Time out under SST can be taken any after completing six months in ST1 and is subject to making satisfactory progress in the programme.

Time out for SST would not normally be given in ST3 as it may have a negative impact on educational progress in the final year of training. That does not prevent time out for SST being taken between the end of ST2 and before the start of ST3 (SST option 2.2).

Q.2 Should I indicate my intention to defer on the Oriel application?

A2. Yes. All applicants wishing to defer for statutory or non – statutory reasons should indicate on the Oriel application that they intend to defer.  Applicants applying for non- statutory reasons who fail to do so will be deemed not eligible.

Q3. Do I need a reference from my year out for my GP application?

A3. No because the time out is taken as part of the GP training programme once you have been successful in your application.

Q4. Can I take more than a year out?

A4. No, the maximum amount of time out of programme for SST is limited to a maximum of one calendar year and would normally be for a minimum of six months unless the duration of posts in the region where you have accepted a place are for 4 months. In this case the minimum will be four months.

Q5. Can I take only 6 months out?

A5. Yes – the minimum time would normally be six months up to a maximum of twelve months unless the rotation has 4 month posts. See above

Q6. Can I extend the duration of my deferral period after it has been approved?

A6. No – Once the deferral has been approved you cannot extend the duration.

Q7. Can I come back earlier than agreed?

A7. If your circumstances change then you should notify your local regional office as soon as possible. You can only return with their agreement and depending on capacity this may not be to the programme you originally accepted. Any reduction must match the duration of posts in the region – that is 6 or 4 months.

Q8. Do I have to do something medical?

A8. Not necessarily, but non medical placements are classified as out of programme career breaks OOP(C)

Q9. Does it matter where I work as a doctor in my year out?

A9. No, but applicants are advised that if the experience is to contribute to training and a CCT in general practice then prior approval is required from the GMC and RCGP. Please refer to the guidance on SST options.

Q10. Can use the SST option more than once in my GP training?

A10. No, the options are only available once in the GP specialty training programme. For example, if you choose to defer the start of your GP specialty training programme by six months only, you would not normally be permitted to take a second SST option for a further six months out of programme (OOP) break later in your training programme.

Q11. Will my programme be changed if I defer the start of my training under SST?

A11. Not necessarily, applicants who defer will return to the specific preferred programme they accepted subject to capacity. Programmes will be managed locally and would map to the original programme as far as practically possible. However, the programme posts may need to be adjusted to ensure that the programme meets the balanced curriculum requirement set by the GMC. The programme is extended by the duration of the time out of programme and the return to programme date should be aligned to start and end dates of posts.

Q12. If I elect to use any of the SST options do I need to complete an out of programme application (OOP)?

A12. Yes, an OOP application will need to be completed and submitted to the local office. If it is part of an agreed SST option the OOP application should be supported by the training programme director.

Q13. What are the different out of programme options?

A13. These are currently defined in the Gold Guide (version 5) section 6.75.



Out of Programme                 OOP

OOP for training                    OOPT

OOP for research                   OOPR

OOP for experience                OOPE

OOP for career break              OOPC

Streams for Step on Step off/OOP must meet criteria 2.1 or 2.2 to include:

  • Clinical Fellowships and standalone academic opportunities – OOPE/OOPT/OOPR (OOPT, and also OOPR if it is to count towards training, require prospective approval from GMC & RCGP)
  • Clinical experience in other specialties - OOPE
    • Clinical experience in other specialties (as above) might be used to widen the scope of practice and enhance post CCT career opportunities.
    • Clinical SST options related to GPST could be OOPT * requires prospective approval from GMC & RCGP for OOPT
  • Non-clinical SST options – OOPC (as currently detailed in the Gold Guide 6.75)

Q. 14  Can I apply for a transfer (Inter Deanery/Local Office transfer – IDT) if I use any of the SST options?

A14. The criteria for IDT are set out in the Gold Guide and transfers are not normally allowed until trainees have completed 12 months of the specialty training programme and made satisfactory progress (so have an outcome 1 ARCP at the point of transfer). Therefore, IDT applications that meet the criteria after 12 months in programme can be considered. So, an OOP option under SST taken between ST1 and ST2 or part way through ST2 should not exclude applicants for IDTs provided the criteria for transfer are met.

Trainees who elect to defer the start of the training programme do not meet the criteria for an IDT as they have not completed the minimum requirement of twelve months in programme.

Q.15 If I apply and am accepted for deferral in Round 1, can I reapply in Round 1 readvert or Round 2 to improve my ranking and reapply for a deferral if successful?

A15. No. You can reapply in subsequent rounds if you wish but you can only apply once for deferral in a single recruitment year.


Updated 6/11/18