STFS Special Circumstances

STFS – Arrangements for managing doctors with Special circumstances

Special Circumstances approval for F1 doctors

The national Special Circumstances process allows some applicants to apply to be pre-allocated to a Foundation School on the grounds of Special Circumstances on the basis of the following criteria:

Criterion 1: You are a parent or legal guardian of a child or children under the age of 18, who reside primarily with you or form whom you have significant caring responsibilities.

Criterion 2: You are the primary carer for someone who is disabled (as defined by the Equality Act 2010)

Criterion 3: The applicant has a medical condition or disability for which ongoing follow up for the condition in the specified location is an absolute requirement.

Criterion 4: Unique circumstances

Additional information is on the Foundation Programme website.

Approved special circumstances results in applicants being pre-allocated to a specific foundation school for their foundation training, provided that their score is sufficient to meet the national allocation criteria and they complete medical school successfully.

Approval of a special circumstances application does not guarantee allocation to a specific Trust or programme within the foundation school.

An applicant pre-allocated to a foundation school on the grounds of special circumstances will not be permitted to link their application to another individual in the application process.

Implications for those allocated to STFS

Generally foundation schools do not offer pre-allocation of specific programmes within the foundation school to those with special circumstances.

STFS, however, covers a wide geographical area.  In order to support the geographical needs of doctors with special circumstances, each incoming F1 doctor is therefore now offered a choice of up to 3 pre-allocated 2-year foundation programmes.  These programmes are usually at district general hospitals within an hour’s commute of the doctor’s stated home address (criteria 1 and 2) or, for doctors with criterion 3, to enable reasonable access to the care centre.

Applicants may choose whether, or not, to accept one of the offered programmes or to instead enter the main recruitment round.  The latter provides more choice but also the risk of being allocated programmes much further away than those previously offered, in which case adjustments will not be possible.

Late Special Circumstances

Doctors who wish to change their allocated foundation programmes will only be able to do so on the basis of having approved special circumstances, subject to their being a suitable vacancy available, or following an approved swap for the F2 year (see swaps guidance).


Late applications for F1 special circumstances will be reviewed to confirm their eligibility as soon as they are received.  Applicants will not be eligible to be offered up to 3 pre-allocated 2-year foundation programmes.

Applicants applying for late special circumstances approval whose home address is outside the STFS region are encouraged to apply for a foundation school transfer to the foundation school nearest to their home address, as this would provide them with the greatest opportunity of being allocated to a location within a reasonable commute of their home address.  

If a vacancy within the nearest foundation school was not available the applicant would retain their place within STFS and we would endeavour to identify a vacancy at a trust within a reasonable commute, however, STFS is unable to guarantee this.

Please refer to the foundation school transfer guidance and application form under “key documents” of the UKFPO website.

New applications for special circumstances for the F2 year

 Some F1 doctors may be eligible to apply for new special circumstances for F2 owing to a significant change in their circumstances since starting their F1 year:

  • Any changes made would be for the location of the F2 year, and would not affect the existing F1 programme.
  • If F2 special circumstances are approved, and it is agreed that the allocated trust is not within a reasonable commute, the location of the linked  F2 Trust may be adjusted, subject to available programmes.
  • Please note that subsequent reallocation is subject to capacity and therefore it is not always possible to provide a programme at a site within a reasonable commute.
  • If you feel you need to make an application for Special Circumstances please contact the School team here.

Applications for consideration for August 2021 musy be recieved by no later than 9am on the 6th of April 2021.