According to European law, LTFT training is training that meets the same requirements as the full time equivalent, differing only in that participation in medical activities is limited to at least 50% of that required from FT training.
Who Is LTFT Training For?
There are various reasons, both personal and professional, why LTFT training may be preferred to full time training. These could include having certain professional commitments, having a disability or illness, caring for a disabled or unwell relative/dependent or having children. It is important for trainees to decide which training programme is best for them, and to set short-term and long-term training goals.
Health Education England (HEE) and deaneries normally require three months’ notice for those hoping to apply for LTFT training. There are two categories they use to assess eligibility and prioritise applications.
- a disability or illness, including those undergoing in vitro fertility treatment;
- a caring responsibility for a disabled or ill relative/dependent; or
- a caring responsibility for a child or children, applicable to either males or females.
- a significant religious commitment, such as training for a specific religious role;
- a non-medical professional development commitment, such as management courses, law courses, fine arts courses, or those undertaking a diploma in complementary therapies; or
- a unique personal/professional development opportunity, such as a short-term extraordinary responsibility (for example involvement in a national committee) or a national/international sporting event (and related training).
Other justifiable reasons may also be considered, however individual circumstances would be assessed, including the candidate’s personal situation and the current needs of the specialty of interest.
The Pros and Cons of LTFT
There are several key challenges and benefits of LTFT versus FT training, including
- Flexibility, due to easier management and prioritisation of workload;
- Improved work-life balance, including the opportunity to spend more time with children or undertake caring responsibilities;
- Support in managing disability or illness; and
- Less pressure, making training more enjoyable.
- Financial impact: training is paid pro rata to FT training, with access to holidays, study leave, and study leave funding also pro rata;
- Increased timelines: training will take longer to complete than FT training
- Difficulty integrating: it may take longer to become an integral member of the team, with some LFTF trainees also feeling like they are taken less seriously than FT trainees by their colleagues;
- Scheduling conflicts: it may be difficult to align availability with those providing training, such as consultants; and
- Less continuity with patients: this may lead to handover issues.
Types of LTFT Training Position
There are two key types of LTFT training position: slot-sharing and reduced sessions.
Slot sharing is where two trainees share one FT position, including any out-of-hours demands. This does not necessarily mean that both trainees work 50% of a FT position, as each trainee may work up to 80% of a FT position and will receive the pro rata pay based on their hours. It is often preferable to work over 50%, as this allows some overlap and facilitates handovers. However, this is not always necessary, as not all slot sharing partners will work in the same specialty or department.
Where a slot share is not feasible, some LTFT trainees may be able to take up a FT slots but work reduced hours, depending on the specialty and individual needs of the employer. In terms of arrangement, the FT post is already funded under the educational contract and the employer should be able to retain the surplus funds to support the LTFT training. The LTFT trainee is still required to complete the necessary training application and forms, and the local trust will also need to provide written approval.
Determining your work schedule
LTFT training candidates should discuss available options with their local HEE office/deanery and potential employer. In secondary care it is likely that LTFT trainees will be scheduled according to a rota, with limited flexibility in their working hours. In primary care, there may be additional flexibility, although full days of working will likely be required.