Frequently asked questions
How do I apply for an ACF or ACL post?
Recruitment for all ACF and CL opportunities on the Integrated Academic Training programme (medical) is conducted via Health Education England regions and managed through Oriel, the national NHS online recruitment system. For Imperial College London, recruitment to ACF and CL posts is coordinated by the London Recruitment team, based in the Operations Department of Health Education South London and overseen by the NIHR. Details are available on the NIHR website and the London LETBs Recruitment site.
How do I best structure my research blocks?
As soon as they have been appointed, ACFs and CLs (medical) should make contact with the Clinical Lead/Training Programme Director and Academic Training Lead for their specialty to discuss and agree how the research block will be organised. For ACFs, research blocks are usually organised in 3 month or 3+3 month back to back concurrent periods, but this will depend on the specialty. For CLs, the structure of research blocks can be variable but many are organised in 6-month or one-year blocks. Each specialty/division will have a slightly different model and approach, depending upon local circumstances, and the research time must be planned in full agreement between Clinical and Academic Leads. Planning for this should start as soon as the ACF/CL appointment has been confirmed.
What is study leave and how do I apply for it?
Study leave funding allows clinical academic medical trainees to enhance their clinical education and training in areas not easily acquired in the clinical setting or locally - and is used to support the development of clinical knowledge and understanding. This funding is available to clinical academic trainees (ACFs and CLs) over and above the bursaries and funding provided specifically to support academic training, in exactly the same way as for non-academic clinical trainees. Please note: trainees in OOPRs and OOPEs are not entitled to the HEE study leave funding. Trainees in an OOPT are entitled to full HEE study leave funding. Any application submitted by the trainee entitled to HEE funding requires a pre-approved HEE course code which can be obtained from the HEE PGME support portal.
ACFs and CLs must be in a recognised HEE training post to be eligible for study leave. Applications are managed by the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Medical Education Centre. In order to undertake study leave, you first need to obtain permission locally within your department following their outlined processes and then submit on the Intrepid – study leave application system managed by the Medical Education Department. Access details for the system would be issued within two weeks of joining the trust. Further details about the process can be found on the Trust Intranet (accessible after you join the trust), or by contacting the relevant Postgraduate Education Centre Team by email, see below:
Once study leave applications have been approved, trainees will be reimbursed for the study leave costs via payroll.
- ACFs will be reimbursed directly via the Trust payroll
- CLs on Imperial College London contracts will need to apply for study leave via the Trust's process and then they will need to follow the College process for expenses reimbursement (My Expenses), i.e. there are 2 steps to the claim process. CLs will need to upload a screenshot/copy of the confirmation in My Expenses showing their application was approved at Trust level. When submitting the claim in My Expenses, CLs should use activity code H34001 (Health Education England) plus the relevant College departmental cost centre. Initially, CL study leave costs will be charged to a College departmental cost centre and approved by a departmental approver. The costs will later be recharged back to HEE by the Central Faculty of Medicine Finance Team.
For more details on study leave, please go to HEE PGME support portal here.
Who do I contact about my Imperial College and Healthcare NHS Trust contracts?
For medical trainees undertaking the Integrated Clinical Academic Training Pathway, the following applies: ACFs will have a contract with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and an honorary contract with Imperial College London, CLs will have a contract with Imperial College London and an honorary contract with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Honorary contracts normally run concurrently with the substantive contract and are issued to allow trainees to work at the organisation where they do not have a substantive contract. For queries about contracts please contact the following:
- Imperial College Healthcare Trust
- Imperial College London
Honorary and Visiting Researcher Associations / Human Resources Division (email@example.com)
Will I be on-call during my academic block?
For medical trainees undertaking the Integrated Clinical Academic Training Pathway, academic blocks will not usually include on-call commitments, so trainees will only be paid at the basic salary rate for the duration of their academic time. This may, however, vary by clinical specialty and trainees should talk to their Clinical Training Programme Director or department training lead. ACFs/CLs may wish to supplement their salaries during academic training by arranging to undertake ad hoc shifts that fit easily around their academic blocks. This should not detract from their academic work and should be limited.
How do I make an Out of Programme request (OOP)?
For medical trainees undertaking the Integrated Clinical Academic Training Pathway, formal requests to go 'Out of Programme' must be made to Health Education England (HEE) and the NIHR, via the Operations Department of Health Education South London and overseen by the NIHR. Details and advice on OOP are available on the London Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education website.
- Trainees are advised to discuss their OOP requests with their supervisors and clinical academic leads before submitting a formal application
- Trainees need to consider and submit OOP requests to HEE well in advance of requiring time out
- Please note that when an OOP request is granted by HEE, this does not mean that the NIHR will automatically grant trainees the ability to return to their academic post
- OOP can be granted for up to four years to academic trainees
- OOP requests are subject to the approval of the Postgraduate Dean and NIHR and will, therefore, be handled centrally by HEE and not the Imperial AHSC CATO office.
I am a CRTF can I apply for my funding and bursary allocation if I am undertaking my PhD?
Only medical trainees undertaking the Integrated clinical academic training pathway are eligible to apply for the NIHR bursary, BRC funding and the Research training award.
If trainees are Out of Programme, studying a PhD, and were formerly an ACF at Imperial College London, they are not permitted to make a funding application.
How do we sign up for MSc Genomics modules?
CATO encourages academic trainees to develop genomics knowledge, but this is not mandated. HEE are currently offering scholarship funding for Genomics courses for Health/NHS professionals and they also offer a number of free online resources. We suggest you first check the HEE Genomics Education Pages to decide what learning might suit you. If you decide it’s the modules from the Imperial MSc in Genomic Medicine you should contact the course organisers at the College to see if /when they have space, and then if need be, go back to HEE to apply for their free funding. If / when this route has been exhausted ACFs can also apply to CATO for funding via the Research Training Programme Award bursary.
• Health Education England (HEE): Genomics Education–resources & taught courses: https://www.genomicseducation.hee.nhs.uk/education/
• Imperial College London: Genomic Medicine. MSc/PG Cert/PG Dip: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/medicine/genomic-medicine/
• Imperial CATO/ bursary funding: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/medicine/study/clinical-academic-training-office/support-for-doctors/funding/
(last updated August 2023)
I’ve been offered a CL post at ICL starting in a month...
I’ve been offered a medical CL post at Imperial, starting in a few months’ time. Should I contact the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust HR team?
Yes, contact them now! The more advance notice you can give to HR, the more time they will have to get contracts and other arrangements in place to ensure your first day goes smoothly. Your primary contract will be with ICL (the university) but you need an honorary contract with the Trust for day 1 of your CL post.
I am a CL at ICL about to go on maternity leave...
I am currently a medical CL on an Imperial College London substantive contract with an honorary contract at ICHT (‘License to attend’) and will soon be going on maternity leave – how does this impact on my NHS terms and conditions?
This should not make a difference to your maternity pay entitlements as Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust considers ICL employment as continuous service for maternity leave. Also, maternity pay payments should be calculated based on total salary (including any banding payments you may currently be receiving).
Since everyone’s circumstances will be slightly different, specific questions about maternity/paternity leave should be directed to the Medical Personnel Team: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
What is Academic Flexible Pay Premium (AFPP)?
What is Academic Flexible Pay Premium (AFPP)?
- AFPP pays a £4000 annual supplement to any doctor acquiring a PhD beyond foundation years, from time of completing PhD until they reach CCT, while in formal training (NTN) posts.
- This is paid by the employer (NHS Trust or University)
- As stated, only if you are in a training post, and only until CCT, and only if PhD acquired after foundation years.
- People who undertook an MB-PhD are not eligible
- Note: the BMA medical academic staff committee is always very helpful in this regard (if you are a BMA member, get in touch: https://www.bma.org.uk/)
- Only payable if on new junior doctors contract
- The point of the APP is to replace the automatic pay increments that the old contract gave and get rid of the disincentive to take time OOP for research.
- Lecturers (or others) still on the old junior doctors contract will have received those increments and therefore will NOT be eligible for the AFPP. (They will undoubtedly be better off to stay where they are).
Information checked: November 2021
Current ACF about to commence my academic research block – who will pay my salary?
ACFs remain employed by NHS Trusts throughout the ACF programme. Trainees remain employees of NHS Trust whilst working in an academic block but also receive honorary contracts with relevant academic institution. The most recent Trust that they are at will fund their salary, i.e. ACFs salaries are funded though ongoing contracts with the Trust they left before their academic block. Trust employers will receive funding for the ACF salary through the quarterly Learning and Development Agreement (LDA) process.
Q: Who funds the NIHR (Integrated Academic Training) IAT ACF posts?
A: NIHR funded ACF posts are 100% funded (not including on-calls or banding) for 3 years. The rotating trust for clinical training is the employing body and an honorary contract is set up with the medical school. Details of all ACF appointments, recruited on our behalf by HEE, are sent to the relevant trust HR Teams via the HEE trust portal once they have been finalised.
All ACF trainees in post will have their salaries funded at 100% for the duration of the academic award - whether working in the clinical or academic component of their academic programme.
Trust employers will receive funding through the quarterly Learning and Development Agreement (LDA) process. If you have any queries about the funding process, please contact email@example.com.