Code of practice in England

The Code of Practice lays out the agreed set of information that recruiting organisations and employers should provide to doctors in training at each stage of the recruitment process, the first post and subsequent rotations.

Location: England
Audience: Junior doctors
Updated: Friday 17 May 2019
Contract and pen article illustration

What this guidance provides:

  • The code of practice in England (PDF)
  • A list of information that should be provided and the expected time frames
  • A glossary of terms
  • What to do if you don't receive information within the deadline


Key points and full code of practice

We have highlighted some of the key points, but download the full code below for details about exactly what to expect and when.

  • HEE is now obliged to provide training programme information to juniors as soon as possible after they have accepted their offer on the Oriel system, with an absolute deadline of 12 weeks prior to starting their first post. This significantly improves expected notice from eight weeks as before.
  • We are increasing geographic detail in many specialty training offers - to local areas or even specific rotations, rather than broad geographic regions - so trainees know what they area accepting in the first place.
  • The minimum information provided to trainees goes into greater detail. This includes information regarding any academic elements of posts, as well as contact details for supervisors at least eight weeks in advance of starting a post.
  • By eight weeks in advance of starting a post employers will also provide the generic rota, outlining the actual rota and working pattern but not the precise rota slot an individual will work. This will enable trainees to submit any specific requests for annual leave, and facilitate the removal of fixed leave from rotas.
  • The duty roster outlining the exact slot of the rota will then be provided at a minimum of six weeks before starting the post.
  • HEE is overhauling its internal processes so it can actually meet these deadlines, and allow employers to meet theirs. This will include publishing progress on a regular schedule so we can identify and address areas where adequate notice is still not provided.
  • Make sure you respond promptly if contacted for further information by HEE or your employer, to help them avoid delays, and always within five working days.


Information to be provided Key dates
Recruiting office to place advertisements. For a min of 4 weeks
Recruiting office to ensure programme information is available for applicants to view on Oriel prior to submitting their programme preferences. (FP only) Min of 8 weeks before
Eligibility criteria to be published on recruiting organisations websites. Min of 4 weeks before recruitment round
Recruiting organisations provide information about programmes and location (including specific site(s) of work within multi-site organisations) on websites. Non specified
Foundation schools indicate whether applicants will be ranking their programme preferences for rotations for both years of their programme; or just their first year. (FP only) Mid-September
Foundation Schools should publish information prior to the start of the recruitment round about how they will match applicants to programmes. (FP only) Prior to recruitment round
Local office to provide programme allocation information to applicants as soon as possible. If this cannot be made at as part of the offer it should be at least 12 weeks before commence of post. Min. of 12 weeks prior to start of post
Local office to provide application information to employer once offer of training programme has been accepted and general information has been provided to applicant. Local office also to provide notice to trainee of where they have been allocated. Min. of 12 weeks prior to start of post
Employer to provide doctor/dentist specific information about the post being offered. Min. of 8 weeks prior to the start of the 1st placement
Employer to provide the doctor/dentist with their rota in the generic work schedule. This will enable trainees to submit requests for annual leave to be considered and facilitate the removal of fixed leave in rotas. Min. of 8 weeks
The duty roster will be made available at 6 weeks before commencement of post. Min. of 6 weeks
Employer to issue statement of particulars and employment contract to doctor/dentist. No later than 8 weeks after start of post (ideally on completion of pre-employment checks)
Local office provides details to employer and doctor/dentist in training details of future placements within the training programme. At least 12 weeks before each placement start date

Glossary of terms

Fixed leave

Leave which is built into the construction of the rota with days or weeks blocked out for each doctor in advance. Under the 2016 contract, fixed leave is not permitted without the agreement of the trainee.

Generic work schedule

A generic work schedule is a document setting out the trainee’s intended learning outcomes (mapped to the educational curriculum) and work commitments. It includes a copy of the rota that the trainee will be working to.

Health Education England (HEE)

HEE undertakes workforce planning on behalf of the health service in England, and works with employers, medical schools, medical royal colleges and others to commission and plan medical recruitment and curricula. HEE was established in 2013 and formally took control of workforce planning, as well as housing the deanery functions which had previously been standalone units.

Local office

Branch of Health Education England (HEE) within a local area that works with medical schools and employers within its footprint, as well as a number of other areas outside of medicine-specific issues. These offices also house the deanery function within their footprint. There are 13 local offices in England.


Oriel is the UK-wide portal for recruitment to postgraduate medical, dental, public health, healthcare science and pharmacy training programmes. This is done centrally in one location, where previously up to 20 systems has to exist across the United Kingdom.


A setting into which a doctor is placed to work for a fixed period of time in a post or posts in order to acquire the skills and competencies relevant to the training curriculum, as described in the work schedule.


The working pattern of an individual doctor or group of doctors.


A rotation is a series of placements made by the HEE local office into posts with one or more employers or host organisations. These can be at one or more locations.

Recruiting office

Recruitment for specialty training has a single lead office for recruitment in England. This office is often a local HEE office which administers the applications for specialty recruitment across England.

Recruiting organisation

The term used to describe the organisation undertaking recruitment for postgraduate medical training. This covers deaneries, foundation schools, the UKFPO, GP NRO, and lead recruiting trusts.

Trainee Information Systems (TIS)

An ongoing HEE piece of work to amalgamate information systems used to manage trainees and learners where currently there are multiple systems in use to perform this function. TIS is a national initiative to develop information systems that are able to create a single platform for this information to allow a more streamlined and user-friendly system.


If you don't receive information in time

Keep it local

For the foundation programme, you should contact your foundation school to find out as much as you can for your case. Contact details should be available on correspondence you have received from the school, or online.
For specialty trainees, you should contact the recruiting office. It may be that the recruiting office is not local to you, but you should not be put off by that.

Raise it with HEE

If you are not happy with the response from your foundation school or recruiting office, speak to your HEE local office for the purpose of engaging with the deanery function and find out more information. Ideally, if you are at this stage then the HEE local office should be able to escalate the issue.

Contact the BMA

If you are not able to get the answer you want, then raise this issue with a BMA employment adviser who will be able to take further steps to advance your issue.

Don’t delay

If you are kept waiting during the process at any stage, then do not delay in contacting those running the process – it will benefit you to ensure that the process is being run to time and that you are being contacted regularly. It is important for you to be fully informed, so that you can be prepared for your new post.