Supported Return to Training

Returning to training after a period of absence can be a daunting and difficult time for trainees. Trainees 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 Wessex Supported Return to Training (SuppoRTT) programme aims to support all trainees to safely and confidently return to training after a sustained period of absence. The programme applies to all trainees absent for 3 months or more, regardless of the reason. Those absent for a shorter period may also opt in.

As returning trainees 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 your absence

Before starting a period of planned absence of 3 months or more, all trainees 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 Educational Supervisor (ES) or Training Programme Director (TPD) approximately 12 weeks before their anticipated return date, and complete a pre-return-to-training form.

For trainees who have already returned to the workplace within the last month AND have already submitted the suppoRTT pre-return form, they can complete a follow-up form should this be necessary. This form is designed for trainees to meet with their educator to discuss how their return to work is going and to request any further support they may need from the suppoRTT team.

Trainees 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 trainee’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
  • Coaching and mentoring, courses, and other learning activities to refresh skills and build confidence
  • Preparing for Annual Review of Competency Progression (ARCP)

The pre-return to training form is available to complete online

SuppoRTT resources available in Wessex

  • Funding for up to three paid ‘reorientation days’ before the return date
  • Opportunities to attend dedicated return to training courses run by NHSE Wessex
  • Access to mentor support
  • Access to up to professional development coaching


If you have any questions about the SuppoRTT programme in Wessex, please email