National Flexible Training Scheme

The medical workforce is changing and, over recent years, numerous reports have pointed to the importance of providing flexible working arrangements for doctors. 

Prior to July 2016 the HSE National Flexible Training Scheme was limited to Higher Specialist Trainees, managed and funded by NDTP equivalent to 12 whole WTE full funded supernumerary posts, i.e. up to 24 participants at 50% of wte at any one time. Since the NCHD rotation in July 2016, NDTP National Flexible Training Scheme are funding an additional 4 whole WTE training places i.e. up to 32 participants at 50% of wte at any one time.  In addition NDTP has extended the scheme to junior trainees from year 2 BST training onwards.

The scheme facilitates NCHDs in a training programme to continue their training in a flexible manner for a set period of time. 

Trainees must be enrolled in a Training Programme under the auspices of one of the postgraduate medical training bodies recognised by the Medical Council in Ireland. 

The HSE National Flexible Training Scheme Guide sets out details of the National Flexible Training Scheme and provides information for trainees, training bodies and employers about the programme. The Flexible Training Policy 2020 is now online and is available at the following link Flexible Training Policy 2020.

If you wish to apply to the HSE National Flexible Training Scheme please complete and submit the application form which is available at this link Flexible Training Application Form 2020.  

A set of flexible training principles agreed by the postgraduate training bodies and NDTP were launched at the Postgraduate Medical Training conference in November 2017.  Flexible Training options have been developed:

1  To support the retention of doctors within the medical workforce who wish to continue training on a less than full-time basis
2  To promote career development and work/life balance for doctors working within the health services
3  To ensure an appropriate balance between less than full-time arrangements, educational requirements, health service needs and quality of patient care.

Flexible Training can refer to a range of options whereby trainees can access less than full- time training or in some instances, training in geographical locations more suited to their personal circumstances while continuing to attain the required competencies and range of experience.

Principles of Flexible Training

The following principles have been agreed between HSE National Doctors Training and Planning (NDTP) and the Forum of Irish Postgraduate Medical Training Bodies (Forum).

1. All doctors in training can apply for flexible training.

2. All efforts will be made to provide flexible training to every applicant where possible.

3. Applications for flexible training can be submitted within a defined period and will normally be processed within three months.

4. No existing trainee can be disadvantaged by the application for Flexible Training options. For example, a trainee cannot have their rotation changed without their agreement to accommodate a request for reassignment from another trainee.

5. The flexible training post must meet the training requirements and be appropriate to the trainees stage of training.

6. Flexible training should not extend the duration of training beyond the parameters laid out in the training regulations of an individual training body.

7. Flexible trainees will have their equivalent full-time salary protected and will continue to hold the NCHD contract.

8. Supernumerary Flexible training posts funded by NDTP will be administered by the training bodies from the July 2019 training year.

9. The annual allocation process should maximise the opportunities for trainees to access flexible training posts.

10. Trainees who need flexible training at short notice and /or in exceptional circumstances should have their applications dealt with on a case by case basis by individual training bodies.

11. Appeals will be processed transparently and in accordance with the policies and procedures of the individual training bodies.

12. Trainees will also have the right to an independent appeals process, but only if they have utilised the training body appeals mechanism initially.                                                                                                      

13. Data on Flexible Training applications and approvals will be collected centrally through the Forum, shared with HSE NDTP, and be made available publicly in order to monitor progress.

14. It is expected that the number of flexible trainees will increase in the future, subject to demand. This has been incorporated into the annual Service Level Agreement process between HSE- NDTP and each individual Training Body.

15. The requirement to enhance Flexible Training options is recognised by all and in this regard, each training body will designate a named advocate for Flexible Training Options.

16. The revised arrangements for access, implementation, promotion and feedback will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by a Steering Group representing all key stakeholders.