Out of Programme Research (OOPR)
Under the Gold Guide, Medical Trainees can apply for a period of dedicated research to undertake a higher degree such as a PhD or MD. During this time they move "Out-of-Programme" and their clinical training is paused until an agreed-upon date for return to the specialty training programme.
We would expect the majority of our Academic Clinical Fellows to use the pilot research conducted during their ACF post to apply for an externally-funded fellowship, but any specialty trainee is eligible to apply for OOPR.
The process for application for OOPR is the same as for any Out-of-Programme experience, and is outlined here. Trainees must submit an OOP form to the Deanery, countersigned by their clinical Training Programme Director. The Postgraduate Dean or a deputy will make a decision on whether the period of OOP is to be approved.
Yorkshire and the Humber Deanery allows academic trainees* a usual maximum of three years of OOPR, with a possible further year extension dependent on individual circumstances. This contrasts with the majority of Deaneries who will usually allow a maximum of two years with a possible extension to three years.
The NHS Pension Scheme permits certain non-NHS employers to maintain continuous pension contributions during any period of OOP, if the institution has Direction Body Status under Section 7 of the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1967. In Yorkshire and the Humber, the University of Sheffield, University of Leeds and University of Hull all have direction body status under Section 7(2) of the above act. Further information on Direction Body Status is available here.
Where the non-NHS employer during OOPR does not have Direction Body Status but the individual trainee retains an NHS contract of employment through the previous NHS employer, the individual can continue to maintain employee's pension contributions for up to two years. The employer can pay their contributions for the first six months, after which the individual is responsible for both individual and employer's contributions. Further information on NHS Pension Contributions during OOP is available here and here.
Although research fellowships undertaken as OOPR are usually awarded to the individual, the salary payments are usually disbursed through the Higher Education Institution. In the majority of cases, the University will be the substantive employer for the duration of the OOP period. If you are unsure whether this would apply to you, please contact the relevant University Faculty Human Resources Team.
Return to Programme
It is essential that the clinical training programme are given as much notice of intended return to programme as possible. Failure to do this may mean that a training post is not immediately available at the end of OOPR.
*Academic Trainees are defined as those who have undertaken an Academic Clinical Fellowship or similar post in the previous twelve months and trainees who have been awarded an externally-funded fellowship from a major research funder e.g. Wellcome Trust, MRC, NIHR. Trainees who are in clinical-only training posts wishing to undertake higher degrees may also be considered for academic status to allow them to take a longer OOPR period on a case-by-case basis.