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Head of Human Resources
BMA LNC and Associate Medical Director, Acute Services Division
Board Medical Director / Director of Workforce
14 October 2020
14 October 2020
14 July 2021



NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.


New policies / procedures will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.


Reviewed policies / procedures will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.


If a policy / procedure is past its review date, then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy / procedure review is complete and the new version published or there are national policy or legislative changes.





1.1       This policy is agreed between NHS Fife, in partnership with the BMA Local Negotiating Committee, for the application of Study Leave for Career Grade Medical and Dental staff (including Salaried General Practitioners).





2.1       This policy applies to all career grade medical and dental staff within NHS Fife (including Salaried General Practitioners).






3.1       The responsibility for the application of this policy rests with the Board Medical Director Associate Medical Directors, Clinical Directors, General / Service Managers and HR staff.





4.1       This policy is designed to support the process for application of study leave for Medical and Dental staff (including Salaried General Practitioners).





  • Hospital Medical and Dental staff and Doctors and Dentists in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service (Scotland) Terms and Conditions of Service (July 2007)
  • General Whitley Council Terms and Conditions of Service
  • NHS Fife Standards of Business Conduct





  • Hospital Medical and Dental staff and Doctors and Dentists in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service (Scotland) Terms and Conditions of Service (July 2007).





Footnote:  Terms and Conditions of Service may be amended to take account the upcoming withdrawal from the European Union




  • The purpose of this document is to provide a clear operational framework for the application of Study Leave that recognises the need for all career grade practitioners and directly employed SGPs to maintain and further develop good medical practice through continuing post graduate education and professional development.


  • The Consultant, Associate Specialist and Specialty Doctor grade terms and conditions (Scotland) set out examples of activities for which leave may be granted. These include:


  • Study (usually, but not exclusively, on a course or programme of study)
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Examining or Taking Examinations
  • Attending Professional Courses / Conferences
  • Visiting Clinics





  • The following provisions are based on individual and organisational need:


  • NHS Fife aims to design and implement policies that meet the diverse needs of its workforce, ensuring that employees are treated fairly. Managers and staff must show responsibility for ensuring transparency and equity in the implementation of this policy, balancing individual needs with due consideration of the needs of patients, colleagues, other team members and NHS Fife.


  • Study leave will normally be granted to the maximum extent consistent with maintenance of essential services up to thirty days (including off duty days falling within the period of leave) in any 3 years, for leave within the European Economic Area (EEA).


  • Any approved leave within the EEA will be granted with full pay and agreed associated expenses as set out in Appendix 1 and in line with the nationally agreed terms and conditions of service.


  • A practitioner will not be additionally compensated for time spent travelling outwith their normal working hours as defined in their job plan or for overnight stays associated with attendance at an approved event / activity over or above the support specified in this policy.


  • Part time staff, if attending a course / event on a day on which they are not normally contracted to work and for which they wish to claim fees and associated expenses will be granted approved leave for each day of attendance. The full period of study should be requested as study leave. Time off in lieu for time not normally spent at work will be an option for all staff.  This ensures that no pro-rata of study leave is required for part-time staff.


  • Where a practitioner requires leave for attendance which includes a non working day, study leave should be requested for the full period and will count towards the recommended standard study leave entitlement. Time off in lieu will be provided at a future mutually convenient time for attendance on non working days. Where the exigencies of the service would prevent taking of time in lieu, arrangements for payment at the practitioner’s normal basic hourly rate of pay may be made.




  • Leave Within the EEA


  • The minimum notice period for the submission of study leave applications is 8 weeks in advance of the period of requested leave. Failure to provide the minimum notice may result in the request being rejected.


  • All applications should be submitted to the relevant Associate Medical or Clinical Director, using the Application Form at Appendix 4.


3.2       Leave Outwith the EEA


3.2.1    The Board Medical Director will consider requests for leave that is outwith the EEA.


3.2.2    Requests for such leave should be submitted in accordance with the process above and should clearly identify that the request is for leave outwith the EEA and will be subject to the agreement of the Board Medical Director.


3.2.3    Such requests will be considered on an individual basis and the employer may at its discretion grant study leave with or without pay or expenses or with any proportion thereof.  





4.1       The relevant Associate Medical or Clinical Director will be responsible for ensuring all necessary approvals are obtained and will confirm with the practitioner, no later than ten working days following receipt of the request, whether the application has been approved.


4.2       When approval is not granted, a written decision will be provided and the original application will be returned to the applicant within ten working days of receipt.  Applicants will have the right of appeal in the event that an application is rejected.  Section 8 below sets out the appeal mechanism within Section 7 of the Application Form available for this purpose.





5.1       Applications for leave under the provisions of this policy will be subject to the under noted conditions and in all circumstances will be subject to maintaining essential services.  These applications must be approved by the appropriate Associate Medical or Clinical Director (or in their absence, as required, by the appropriate General Manager / Board Medical Director):


  • Where leave is granted with full pay and expenses, the practitioner must not undertake any other paid work during the agreed period of study leave without employer agreement.


  • Applications should be submitted a minimum of 8 weeks in advance of the requested leave period. In circumstances where the minimum notice has not been met, alternative arrangements will be agreed within the Department for clinical activity.




  • Where minimum notice has not been met, but approval of a request would not result in staffing levels falling below an agreed safe level, the relevant Associate Medical Director will review the request taking account of the impact on scheduled clinical activity and approve / reject accordingly.


  • Where the minimum notice period has not been met and agreed safe staffing levels will be breached were the leave to be granted, the Associate Medical or Clinical Director will reject the request on this basis.


5.2       Preference will be given to applications where:


-      more local options are not available

-      the overall cost represents good value

-      the reason for study leave closely matches the personal development plan agreed at the most recent appraisal and signed off in the job plan

-      where the skills and knowledge being gained directly benefit the clinical services being provided by the doctor / dentist in their NHS employment


5.3       It is expected that leave requests will reflect the personal development needs of the individual and are linked to supporting the delivery of agreed organisational, departmental or specialty objectives, as agreed in the individual’s personal development plan and via appraisal.


5.4       In all cases, the total costs to be incurred during the study leave period must be clearly stated on the study leave application. 


5.5                   In all cases any fees or sponsorship expected to arise from participation in an agreed activity must be disclosed to the Board at the time the application is submitted. Where sponsorship from an external source is available and confirmed, the Board will reduce the level of financial assistance / expenses provided.


5.6                   Acceptance and declaration of external funding must be disclosed in accordance with the Board’s Standards of Business Conduct. 


5.7                   Where the practitioner is employed by another NHS employer as well as NHS Fife, the arrangements for approving and funding of any / study professional leave will be discussed and agreed with the individual and their other employer/s.


5.8                   Funding of any programme of study leading to the award of a further post-graduate qualification will be subject to the provisions below will apply in the event that an individual leaves NHS Fife within the two year period following completion of the programme of study.  The following repayment schedule would apply in these circumstances:


            The employee leaves during the course          -           full refund of fees paid by the organisation


            Within one year of completion                         -           75% of fees paid by NHS Fife


            Within one to two years of completion             -           50% of fees paid by NHS Fife the organisation


            Study leave must be used for approved purposes only and is not simply an additional paid leave entitlement.  No payment will be made in lieu of any unused study leave entitlement not used at the termination of employment ,irrespective of the reason.       


5.9       Please see the FAQs at Appendix 3 providing additional information for practitioners.      





6.1                   The Associate Medical Directors or Clinical Directors will be responsible for recording all approved leave in accordance with agreed process.  All costs associated with the approved leave should also be included appropriately.  Individuals will be responsible for recording how the study leave has contributed towards their personal development needs.





7.1       Claims should be completed via eExpenses and forwarded to the relevant Associate Medical or Clinical Director or authorising manager, along with all receipts, no later than 2 months of returning from the period of study leave to allow sign off and submission to eExpenses / Payroll within the agreed timescale of 3 months. Claims submitted outwith these timescales may be rejected.


  • Expenses will be reimbursed at the rate of subsistence agreed at the time of approval. 


7.3                   Where expenses incurred exceed agreed indicative costs by a margin which would be considered excessive by the Associate Medical Director or Clinical Director, claims will be restricted to the subsistence levels previously agreed.


7.4       All claims for expenses will require to be supported by receipted invoices or receipts, including taxi fares, car parking.   In line with General Whitley Council (GWC) terms and conditions of service, claims for allowances do not require receipts.




8.1       Where a study leave request has been rejected, in whole or in part and informal resolution has been unsuccessful, any appeal against the refusal to grant study leave in accordance with these provisions shall be considered by the Associate Medical Director, or Board Medical Director if concerning an Associate Medical Director.  


8.2       An appeal can be submitted using the section entitled ‘Appeals’ within the original application form.  The outcome will be notified directly to the applicant and Associate Medical Director by the respective Associate Medical Director or Board Medical Director within 7 calendar days of receipt of the request.

Med HR13 Appendix 1

Med HR13 Appendix 2

Med HR13 Appendix 3

Med HR13 Appendix 4