Sunday 24 July 2011

Foundation Programme : Applying for flexible training

[This post is now several years old. In fact, I am now working as a less than fulltime FY1 on a 50% pro rata basis. The first part of the application process is ranking your preferred foundation schools. When you find out which foundation school you have been matched to, you should contact them about working less than fulltime. They require at least 3 months notice before you would start work. In my foundation school the only official options now for the foundation programme are fulltime or 50%, although I know one doctor working on a supernumerary basis. You can be less than fulltime for reasons of childcare, health or for some professional reasons. I will write more about my experiences now I have the answers to a lot of my questions.]

Again, this is just my understanding, which is not a substitute for actual information being obtained from a proper grown-up, k?

This post has actually been several months in the brewing - that's how hard it is to get any straight answers on this topic. I still have plenty of questions left unanswered, as you'll see.

If you wish / need to complete the foundation programme on a less than fulltime basis, you go through the application process as normal, until you're allocated to a foundation school. Then it gets confusing, because you are then told to contact the Associate Dean for Flexible Training of the relevant deanery, even though you won't know which deanery you'll be in until you've got a job. The first area which needs further clarification.

As far as I understand from conversations with the med school, you wait until you have a job, and then you ask for flexible training. This is good in terms of anti-discrimination-ness, and would be fine if the NHS wasn't as it is. I'm just worried that they won't get anyone extra to cover the rest of 'my' hours, so other juniors will take up the slack, and everyone will hate me. Anyway...

My med school has already had a 'quiet word' with the relevant person in my deanery (with my consent, because it is for his ears only, and so that we can have conversations about the various options early - he is not part of the selection process). This is fine, as long as I get a job in the deanery I want to, otherwise I'll have a frantic few months trying to sort this all out, during my finals.

At this point you have to provide evidence to back up your reason - which are basically health or caring issues (although there are a variety of more unusual circumstances that can qualify). This then goes through the Associate Dean, and then to someone else (hospital, trust...?) who can approve or deny the application. (Apparently my letter of diagnosis from my consultant which the med school has a copy of is enough evidence. I hope this is true.)

That is the sum total of the information that I can find.

Flexible training during other stages is calculated on a pro rata basis (as in, if you're doing 0.6 of a fulltime job, you do 60% of the nights, 60% of the on calls and 60% of the hours. You also, as far as I can tell, get 60% of the pay, and 60% of the annual leave entitlement.), so I imagine this is true for foundation years.

However, there is no information about what would happen for those who cannot work night shifts, or who would need to work half days, for example. I personally need to know if I would be expected to work the same blocks of shifts as other folk (for example 12 days on) with just longer to recover, or if I could work shorter blocks, with more regular breaks.

There is also no information about how the programme works on a LTFT basis. Do I do 4 foundation years? And if so, do I get a 'normal' F1/F2 allocation, and then have to find locum jobs to bring up my hours, or do I get allocated to 4 years worth of job? When in those 4 years do I get my full GMC registration? After year 1, or after I've done a 'normal' 1 year's worth of hours?

There is so little information about this, which is really frustrating. Why should I, as a disabled applicant, have less of an idea of the application process I will go through than a non-disabled applicant? The long and short answer is that so few people do flexible training during foundation years that it's really dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Not helpful.

Yes, we are individuals, and a lot of applicants for flexible training will have different needs, but even a recognition of that would be useful. There is just no indication about how 'flexible' flexible training can be, if needed. This is a real flaw in the one-size-fits-all national application process. Obviously, I haven't been through the system that came before, so I don't know if it was any better...

There seems to be every chance of me pushing my way through the application process, only to get a job and not be able to take it, because the hours will be unworkable. There is also no way to factor in things like travel time or relative accessibility of different wards / hospitals into the process, but that is another conversation entirely.

It just feels very much like disabled applicants haven't been taken into account, or properly catered for at any stage of the planning process.

Does anyone have any more information about flexible training? I've never even met any F1/F2 who aren't training fulltime.


  1. A tiny smidgeon of information about flexible training and pay:

  2. Oooh, thanks for the unintentional nudge to update my BMA membership. I will await the information with baited breath until the payment processes ;)

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