Study Leave across the South West 

From April 2018 the funding arrangements for Study Leave were updated as part of Health Education England’s (HEE) initiative ‘Enhancing Junior Doctor Working Lives’.

The new HEE-managed centralised process has made accessing study leave and study budgets a more transparent, equitable and streamlined process for all trainees.

Further improvements have been made to access Study Leave in 2019 and as part of an annual review a number of changes will take effect from 1 September 2019.


Principles for Approving Educational Activities

Study budget reforms were introduced to deliver equity of access to educational resources based on individual need and to facilitate improved quality, efficiency, flexibility and transparency.

In the lead up to April 2018, the principles for approving study-budget-funded educational activities was developed through consultation with trainees, their representative bodies, Royal Colleges, Specialty Advisory Committees and Faculties.

The launch of the new study budgets approach in April 2018 meant moving away from a notional individual annual allocation of study budgets (that had varied across different areas), to implement a system whereby HEE supports:

  • All trainees on approved secondary care sector training programmes to achieve their curriculum outcomes, with the same principles applying to trainees in primary care placements
  • Discretionary or career enhancing activity and courses that add value to the individual and support the wider system.

Funding and time for statutory and mandatory training is an employer responsibility and will not come from the study budget.

Under the new system, trainees continue to apply for Study Leave through existing local mechanisms. Placement providers retain the decision as to whether trainees may be released for study leave and it remains a requirement for a trainee to get their Study Leave request approved by their educational supervisor/equivalent (with the exception of overseas claims)

Requests for Study Leave shall be viewed positively, but with a view to ensuring that the needs of service delivery can be safely met.

With this fundamental change to the study budget approach across England, the educational supervisor/equivalent plays a critical role as they determine, through discussion with the trainees they supervise, the appropriateness of the applications. It is an individualised approach, linked to the curriculum requirements and the Personal Development Plan of the individual trainee:

  • The support required by each individual trainee to achieve their curriculum outcomes should be discussed and agreed by the trainee and supervisor
  • The activity should meet the educational needs of the individual
  • It should be clear how educational activity will support the trainee to achieve their curriculum outcomes and how the activity will help the trainee to improve the care they are able to provide to patients

Local HEE offices will monitor and evaluate the range of funded educational activity undertaken to ensure that it is fit for purpose and is providing quality and value for money.


What is Study Leave and what is it used for?

1. Study leave must be used for the purpose for which it is granted
2. Study leave includes but is not restricted to participation in:

  • Courses / education activities to support you achieving the curriculum
  • Study (linked to a course or programme)
  • Attending conferences for educational benefit
  • Rostered training events
  • Exam preparation courses are often funded as historically supported activity.
  • Study Leave budgets can also support aspirational activity that is not directly aligned to the curriculum, for example Management and Leadership skills
  • Courses that add value to an individual and support the wider system
  • Conference fees (Conferences outside of the UK will be agreed on a case by case basis and discussed with the Head of School / Director of Medical Education with approval from the Postgraduate Medical Dean) - Overseas Claims
  • Travel and subsistence, such as travel to and from exams. Travel should be the most cost effective as possible

Study Leave budgets DO NOT cover:

  • Royal college membership fees/ E-portfolio fees
  • Postgraduate exam fees
  • Any statutory or mandatory training required to fulfill your clinical role (this should be provided by your NHS Trust)
  • Travel and accommodation outside of the UK (unless approved by the PG Dean as part of an application for an overseas course / conference)
  • ARCP attendance and associated expenses
  • Consultant interview preparation

If you are unclear what can be claimed please check with your Trust Administrator

3. Attending statutory and mandatory training (including any local departmental training) is not counted as study leave. This should be the responsibility of your employer.
4. All requests for study leave ought to be properly considered by the NHS Trust. Any grant of study leave will be subject to the need to maintain NHS services (and, where the doctor is on an integrated academic pathway, academic responsibilities) and must be authorised by the NHS Trust prior to booking a course or study leave time.
5. Study leave up to the limits described in Table 1 will normally be granted flexibly and tailored to individual needs, in accordance with the requirements of the curriculum.

Study Leave Allowance (Table 1)


Days Per Annum

Foundation Doctor Year 1


All other Doctors in Training



6. Study leave for Foundation Year 1 doctors will take the form of a regular scheduled teaching/training session as agreed locally.
7. Study leave for doctors at Foundation Year 2 and above will include periods of regular scheduled teaching/training sessions, and may also, with approval from the educational supervisor and service manager, include: -

  • Undertaking an approved external course
  • Periods of sitting (or preparing for) an examination for a higher qualification where it is a requirement of the curriculum

Requests for such leave shall be viewed positively in most circumstances, but with a view to ensuring that the needs of service delivery can be safely met.

8. Where a doctor working less than full time is required to undertake a specific training course required by the curriculum, which exceeds the pro rata entitlement to study leave, the employer will make arrangements for additional study leave to be taken, provided that this can be done while ensuring safe delivery of services.
9. Where a doctor takes maternity leave their entitlement to study leave continues, and this may be taken during ‘keeping in touch’ (KIT) days or will otherwise accrue to be taken at a later date
10. LTFT and academic trainees will have equitable access to study leave.


Applying for Study Leave in the South West

Study Leave Processes

Each Local Education Provider has its own policy regarding the notice period required for submission of leave application. The following information should be used in conjunction with the relevant local guidance.

  • Trainees must be aware of local policies, where some units require a notice period of up to 8 weeks
  • Trainees should ensure they apply for local approval of study leave in good time after discussion with, and the approval of, their Educational Supervisor
  • All applications for study leave must be made in advance to your employing Trust (with the exception of requests for overseas courses/conferences) (Overseas Claims)
  • Approval for the time off for study leave must be approved by your Rota Coordinator (or equivalent) Retrospective applications will not be reimbursed
  • You must apply for your study leave using the local provider system
  • Any study leave event outside of the UK (international study leave) will need the approval of the Deanery. (Overseas Claims)
  • It is advised that you book the study leave activity once the online approval process has been completed (including any Deanery level approval for international study leave)
  • If you pay for an activity before the approval process is complete, and the request is declined, you will not be reimbursed for any costs incurred
  • You can reclaim any study leave expenses from your employing Trust after you have attended the event, in accordance with their local process. Further guidance about study leave expenses can be found at, Study Leave Travel & Expenses
  • Claims must be submitted no later than 3 months after the event, in line with NHS terms and conditions for staff expenses. Any claims received after this deadline will not be paid.
  • Exam preparation courses are supported.
  • Study leave days count as working days and so should normally be taken on working days. If it is necessary to take them on non-working days (e.g. weekend or rostered day off), then the lieu days should be agreed with the Educational Supervisor at the time of agreeing the study leave. Both Educational Supervisor and the trainee should ensure this does not make the trainee breach their contract requirements on hours worked or Eureopean Working Time Directive (EWTD)
  • Evidence of having attended the event will be required when requesting any reimbursement
  • If a trainee is unable to attend an event because of ill health and is unable to recover some or all of any advance costs, the trainee should inform their trust administrator in accordance with trust policy

HEE will consider this evidence and, provided it is satisfactory, will approve reimbursement of the costs either fully or in part. The Deanery will confirm the outcome to the trainee and employing Trust. Payment should be made through the employing Trust.

  • If a trainee is unable to attend an event or part of an event because they have been required to work by their employer, HEE will not reimburse the costs. If study leave time was granted by their employer, the trainee should ask their employer to reimburse the costs.
  • If a trainee is unable to attend an event for any other reason, HEE will only reimburse the costs in truly exceptional circumstances, which will be considered on a case by case basis.


PG Courses

Applications for any post graduate academic qualifications (e.g. Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas) will not be accepted through the study leave application process.

The PGMDE office will continue to provide trainees with an opportunity to access funding for PG courses through the competitive Bursary application process each year. Neither Masters courses nor PhD courses will be considered. Applications will be open at the start of May each year as from 2020 and information will be posted on our website.

MRCPsych and Psychiatry Higher Trainees-Severn

Trainees will be required to complete a PGMDE application form for study leave prior to uploading their study leave requests to Intrepid  Instructions and guidance will be sent to trainees and faculty for information in due course. 

Trainees in the Severn region will be required to complete a PGMDE application form prior to uploading their study leave requests to Intrepid. Instructions and guidance will be sent to trainees and faculty for information in due course.


MRCPsych and Psychiatry Higher- Peninsula

Core and Higher Trainees in Peninsula will need to submit their application to their employing NHS trust in accordance with local instructions and policy. 


Who Can Claim Study Leave?

Study leave funding should be used to fund courses that are directly related to support the training of postgraduate medical trainees.

Trainees on Out of Programme Experience (OOPE), Out of Programme Research (OOPR) or Out of Programme Career Break (OOPC) are not entitled to study leave for the period they are out of programme.

Trainees on Out of Programme Training (OOPT) are normally only entitled to study leave for this period if they are occupying a training post on a training programme in our region.

Study budgets within Period of Grace; Doctors will not be eligible for funding from the HEE study budget as these funds are to be used for meeting Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) requirements. Doctors can receive study leave time for ensuring revalidation requirements are met.


HEE Position on Courses

There are a variety of courses and conferences available and an increasing number of practices or approaches for a doctor or dentist to complete their training whether these are essential, as part of the curriculum, or aspirational which enhances patient care and/or personal development.
It is recommended that trainees prioritise any educational requirements and personal development. It is expected that they will use their discretion, in accordance with their obligation to demonstrate professional integrity, when applying for a course or conference, after having a discussion with, and gained agreement from, the appropriate local faculty who are responsible for approving study leave. As outlined above, this would usually be the trainee’s educational supervisor/equivalent but, depending on the circumstances, proposed applications may require discussion in addition with the Training Programme Director and/or Head of School or, for international requests, the Postgraduate Dean or their delegated deputy.

It has been agreed that HEE will not prohibit attendance at an educational opportunity, conference, or other curriculum or professional development opportunity which is not on an ‘approved list’. Lists may be used to give automatic approval to speed up administrative processes. A course being absent from the list does not imply immediate rejection. The decision will remain as within the processes and principles already described in this document.

Guidance may be sought from Royal Colleges and specialist societies if required to support decision making.

Foundation Training

Study leave will normally be granted flexibly and tailored to individual needs, in accordance with the requirements of the curriculum and the trainee’s individual personal development plan.

Study leave for Foundation Year 1 doctors (maximum 15 days) will take the form of a regular scheduled teaching/training session as agreed locally. Additionally, F1 doctors can use up to 5 days of Foundation Programme study leave for tasters to inform future career decision making.

Study Leave for Foundation Year 2 doctors (maximum 30 days) will include periods of regular scheduled teaching/training sessions delivered locally and, for many, no additional support will be needed. Study Leave may also, with the appropriate local approval, include:

  • Undertaking an approved external course aligned to the curriculum: this includes an appropriate course enabling the F2 doctor to meet the curriculum requirement for ‘initiation and performance of advanced life support’ (unless already completed in F1) and occasionally other activity intended to support Foundation doctors achieve their curriculum outcomes.
  • Periods of sitting an examination aligned to their future career intention.

Educational Supervisor Responsibility

  1. Discuss personal development and study leave plans with trainee
  2. Clarify appropriate courses/educational activities to support curriculum attainment Link to course guidance
  3. Financial support for discretionary activity must be considered if the trainee has met the core curriculum requirements and can demonstrate that the support required will allow them to fulfill their potential, facilitate career development and meet potential employer requirements. Discussion and clarification can be sought from Training Programme Director or Head of School as appropriate.
  4. In considering any application the Educational Supervisor should assess whether the request is aligned to the trainee’s PDP. The Educational Supervisor (ES) and Training Programme Director (TPD) should be aware of aspirations and performance to assess whether the request is aligned to the trainee PDP.
  5. If the ES is supportive the TPD or HoS should be approached to make the final decision.
  6. Authorise study leave in timely manner within 2 weeks of application receipt 

Head of School and TPD Responsibilities

  1. To offer advise and clarification in regard to applications for aspirational activity that have been raised with Educational Supervisor
  2. Training Programme Directors or Head of School should make the final decision regarding applications for aspirational activity (if the Educational Supervisor has supported the application)

 HEE Responsibilities

  1. To ensure probity of expenditure and approval is applied equitably.

Other Responsibilities

  • Colleges, Specialty Advisory Committees and Faculties should describe expected capabilities and outcomes but not mandate generic or specific courses. High quality locally delivered activity is preferred where possible.
  • Colleges, Specialty Advisory Committees and Faculties should recommend a range of educational activities or courses that could be grouped around specific themes aligned to the curriculum that will help Schools maximise the resource.
  • Colleges and local education providers may play a role in delivering courses aligned to the curriculum.
  • The curriculum revision process is an opportunity to review how curriculum outcomes are delivered and what out-of-placement activities should be supported to achieve those outcomes. Master’s degrees require consideration.
  • Principles should be applied across specialties with the understanding that some specialties will require a greater proportion of the budget than others and that some curriculum stages will require a greater proportion of the budget than others.
  • Delivery of curricula objectives based on individual requirements is the primary consideration.
  • A good educational activity or course is aligned to the curriculum, receives positive feedback from trainees and faculty and offers value for money.
  • Heads of Schools could improve efficiency by delivering local training where possible and release resource to reinvest in aspirational activity.
  • Data on current activity should be mapped against curricula to ensure that funds are utilised correctly. This will be essential to delivering quality educational activity that meets trainee and local needs.
  • Management and leadership skills development should normally be supported

Study Leave for Special Circumstances

It shows within the fitness to practise data that most concerns about doctors’ performance fall into one or more of the nine GPC domains.

Traditional funding of study leave was mapped to professional values and behaviours and professional skills (as identified within the Generic Professional Capabilities (GPCs) framework). As the GMC now requires all curricula to be revised and re-approved by 2020 in order to meet the standards set out in Promoting Excellence, and contain the GPCs, this training is no longer considered aspirational but core aspects of training.

It has therefore been agreed that:

  • Going forward, previous courses referred to as aspirational study leave should be granted for: ‘educational or professional development opportunities that enhances the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the doctor in training, or enhances any aspect of patient care, but is not mapped to any direct curriculum requirements’.
  • Study leave is granted dependent on the needs of the trainee to fulfil the curriculum, however this is not dependent on the previous ARCP outcome.

Given that best practice in many specialties is now shared at European and global meetings, the lack of ability to attend international courses/conferences may hamper advancing of medical knowledge and service development. This may also have the unintended consequence of preventing quality improvement within the NHS.

For these special aspirational circumstances, it has been agreed that:

  • One international conference/meeting, providing all other curriculum requirements are met, will be considered for each doctor in training for any one programme, which can be defined as Foundation, Core, Higher or otherwise every three years (so as not to disadvantage doctors on a run-through programme) Overseas Claims
  • The educational supervisor should be aware of aspirations and performance to assess whether the request is aligned to the trainee’s personal development plan, which may contain items in addition to curriculum requirements
  • Reasonable adjustments and consideration of individual circumstances must be given for aspirational study leave applications (including international) from trainees with protected characteristics
  • For such activities, part-funding may be considered reflecting both HEE and the trainee’s commitment to their enrichment
  • HEE funding of postgraduate diplomas and degrees must be rationalised by an established link to the curriculum and a commitment that the qualification will be integral to the doctor’s future career
  • If an external body such as a Medical Royal College suggests a doctor in training attends an international conference where not already required by their curriculum, in such circumstances, HEE expects that body to contribute at least 50% of the costs


Study Leave for GP trainees – General Principles


For any queries or additional information please contact Peninsula Study Leave or Severn Study Leave