What is SRTT?

Returning to training after a period of absence can be a daunting and difficult time for Postgraduate doctors (PDs). PDs take time out of programme for many reasons, such as out-of-programme research and experience, parental leave, health issues, career breaks, or short-term suspension while under investigation. Time out of clinical practice can impact on a clinician’s confidence and skills. The Kent, Surrey and Sussex SuppoRTT) programme aims to support all PDs to safely and confidently return to training after a sustained period of absence.

The programme applies to all PDs absent for 3 months or more, regardless of the reason. Those absent for a shorter period may also opt in. As returning PD are a diverse group, SuppoRTT aims to provide a bespoke, individualised package for each returning trainee, rather than a single “one size fits all” approach.

This consists of:

  • A structured and systematic process for planning absence and return to training, and maintaining contact while on leave;
  • A menu of options that can be built into an individualised return-to-training package, agreed between a trainee and their educational supervisor.

Planning for absence

Before starting a period of planned absence of 3 months or more, all PDs should meet with their Educational Supervisor (ES) or Training Programme Director (TPD), and complete a Pre-Absence Form. This meeting is to agree and document plans to stay up to date while out of training, and identify any anticipated support required when they return.

Trainees should begin planning their time away from training at the earliest opportunity and no later than 3 months before their intended leave date.

For unplanned absence, this meeting should take place as soon as possible after the trainee has gone on leave

Returning to training

All trainees should meet with their ES or TPD approximately 12 weeks before their anticipated return date, and complete a Pre-Return Form

PDs should meet with their ES immediately upon return and at appropriate intervals during the return period, until both trainee and ES are satisfied that the returning episode can be closed. The PD’s progress should be reviewed after a reasonably short period of time to ensure there are no causes for concern and assess level of competence so the ‘training clock’ may recommence.

The return-to-training plan should consider the following:

  • Supervised clinical sessions for a period of time if needed;
  • Phased return to work and flexible working arrangements where appropriate;
  • Coaching and mentoring, courses, and other learning activities to refresh skills and build confidence;
  • KIT/SPLIT Days (please see guidance here . Please note that this is July 2020 guidance and may be subject to updates/modification)
  • Preparing for Annual Review of Competency Progression (ARCP).

All PDs should meet with their ES as soon as possible after returning to work and complete a Follow-up Form.


The following groups of returning trainees are eligible for SuppoRTT funding

  • Doctors in Postgraduate training who are currently;
    • Currently in a recognised training programme​ and taking OOP;
    • Accepted on a training programme, but have deferred the start of their programme​​.
  • SAS/Trust Grade doctors who have secured a training programme post​;
  • Dental trainees in a recognised training programme

Potential eligibility for SuppoRTT funding is currently being investigated for:

  • Postgraduate medical trainees who have completed the UK Foundation Programme, but are taking a break from training before entering specialty training;


A range of courses and other resources to support return to training are available or are in development. These include:

Further information is available from the Royal CollegesSpecialty Schools and TPDs or ESs.

Thanks to our colleagues in the East of England for sharing their resources for this factsheet.

While out of training, trainees are encouraged to

  • Keep a record of all continuing professional development meetings, conferences or courses attended while out of training;
  • Keep a logbook of patients seen, clinics and ward rounds attended (if any).

Contact and further information

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact the programme manager at England.SRTT.KSS@nhs.net or you local SuppoRTT Champion.