UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO): Overview 2024
Foundation 22nd February 2024

UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO): Overview 2024

If you’re approaching the end of medical school, you might be starting to think about the UK foundation programme for 2024. This guide provides a handy overview of the UKFPO, how to apply and the UKFPO timeline (so you don’t miss any key dates!). You’ll also find information on other key areas relating to the UKFPO, including the specialist foundation programme (SFP), the foundation priority programme, psychiatry foundation fellowships and less than full time training (LTFT).

Please note: The UK Foundation Programme has announced major changes to the Foundation Programme Allocation Process for 2024 onwards. The new allocation model uses computer-generated ranking for applicants and removes the need to sit the Situational Judgement Test (SJT). This guide explains the new Preference Informed Allocation process and what this means for your application.

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UK foundation programme office (UKFPO)

Following medical school, you’ll undertake the UKFPO – a 2-year, work-based training programme – which aims to develop your clinical and professional skills in the workplace. The UKFPO is a continuation of your medical education and aims to ensure that newly qualified doctors deliver safe and effective patient care. The UKFPO bridges the gap between medical school and specialty or general practice training.

You’ll be allocated your UKFPO role through a ranking process – you can find out more in the ‘how do I apply to foundation training?’ section below – but in short, you’ll first rank the foundation schools in order of your preference, before then ranking the jobs within your allocated foundation school. The ranking process can be time consuming and frustrating; you can find tips on how to make the whole process easier and quicker in our Foundation Job Ranking blog.

How does the foundation programme work?

Through the UKFPO, you’ll complete a number of rotations in different medical and surgical specialties. These are designed to provide a balanced programme which allows you to meet the competencies and outcomes of the Foundation Programme (FP) curriculum set by the GMC.

The UKFPO is split into Foundation Year 1 (FY1) and Foundation Year 2 (FY2). Usually, you’ll undertake three rotations each year, but this does vary depending on your role. Regardless of rotations, FY1 and FY2 provide the following opportunities and outcomes:


Through undertaking supervised responsibility for patient care, you’ll consolidate your skills from medical school within the workplace. Following successful completion of FY1, you’ll be awarded a Foundation Year 1 Certificate of Completion (FY1CC) and recommended to the GMC for full registration. You can find out more about full registration here.


Although you’ll still be supervised, you’ll have greater responsibility for patient care, and begin to make management decisions as you progress towards independent practice. You’ll also contribute to the learning and development of the wider healthcare team, including nurses, medical students and less experienced doctors.

On successful completion of FY2, you’ll be awarded a Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC). This indicates that you are beginning to demonstrate clinical effectiveness, leadership and decision making skills, which are essential for core, specialty or general practice training, and therefore are ready to begin one of these training programmes.

How do I apply to foundation training?

To apply for the UKFPO, you must register on Oriel and apply through the national FP vacancy during the national application window (see timeline below). You need to complete the national application form, which includes your foundation school preferences.

Once you have applied and submitted your foundation school preferences, you’ll be allocated a foundation school. You can find more information about foundation school preferences, including how to choose a foundation school and how these are allocated, in our Foundation Job Ranking blog.

Within your foundation school, you’ll then need to rank the jobs in order of preference.

Ranking your job preferences can be a difficult and lengthy task, and as it’ll determine which UKFPO role you’ll undertake and where you spend the next two years, it’s not one you want to undertake lightly. The simplest approach is to decide what is more important to you in terms of location and/or specialty and use this to order your jobs accordingly. For example, the applicant below prioritised the job specialties over the location and was interested in surgery.


Using the Medibuddy foundation job ranker, they placed any surgery related specialties in the ‘like’ column. Any specialties they didn’t want or would rank low – such as General Practice and Psychiatry – they placed in the ‘dislike’ column, and any other specialties they put in the ‘indifferent’ column. Using this information, the available jobs in their foundation school were then automatically ordered to match their specialty preferences.


This would then be used to rank their jobs easily and effectively in Oriel.

Note: before you can register and apply on Oriel, you first need to be ‘nominated’, either by your medical school or the UKFPO’s Eligibility Office. You can find out more here.

What is Oriel?

Oriel is the national online application system for medical training in the UK. You complete all aspects of applying for the UKFPO in Oriel.

The Medibuddy foundation job ranker downloads the foundation jobs for your allocated foundation school directly from Oriel. This ensures that the job list in the foundation job ranker is identical to Oriel, making it simple for you to rank your choices easily in our system, before transferring them to Oriel.

For more information on how you rank your programme preferences in Oriel visit our Foundation Job Ranking blog.

UKFPO allocation process – Preference Informed Allocation (PIA)

Preference Informed Allocation (PIA) is a new process being introduced for the UK FP allocation process for 2024.

The new allocation model gives all applicants a computer-generated rank. This is designed to provide as many applicants as possible their first choice preference.

The allocation algorithm on Oriel will work through the list of applicants in computer-generated rank order to assign as many applicants as possible to their first choice, before allocating applications to their next available choice.

This process will be used to allocate foundation schools and then foundation programmes. The same rank will be used for each.

You can learn more about the PIA process here.

Removal of the FPAS calculator

Previously, your Foundation Programme Application System (FPAS) points would be used when matching you with your ranked foundation school and foundation jobs.

Your FPAS points were a combination of your Educational Performance Measure (EPM) and your Situational Judgement (SJT) score. With the introduction of the PIA system for 2024 entry, the SJT and EPM have been removed from the process. This means you will no longer need to take the SJT as part of the FP application.

UKFPO Timeline

To Secure your UKFPO role, the key things you must do are:

  1. Complete your eligibility application form (if applicable). Or confirm your nomination (this is applicable for UK graduates who will be nominated by their medical school).
  2. Register on Oriel
  3. Complete the national application form during the national application window. This is when you’ll rank your foundation school preferences – see our Foundation Job Ranking blog for more information.
  4. Rank the foundation jobs within your allocated foundation school in order of preference using your location and/or specialty preferences to guide you. Below is an example of an applicant whose parents live near the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital (RVI) in Newcastle. As their main objective was to remain close to home for convenience, they chose the RVI and hospitals nearby ­– such as the Freeman Hospital and Walkergate Park Hospital in Newcastle – as their preferred locations by placing them in the ‘like’ column. The others they’ve then placed in the ‘indifferent’ or ‘dislike’ column, depending on their closeness.


Using these preferences, the foundation job ranker simply arranged the available jobs to ensure that those close to the applicant’s home address were ranked first.


As you can see, jobs at the RVI, Freeman Hospital and Walkergate Park Hospital have been prioritised, meaning they can now use this to rank their jobs in Oriel easily and quickly.

The following is an overview of the key dates in relation to the UKFPO 2024:

Recruitment Activity Dates
Eligibility application window 4 – 25 July 2023
Oriel registration opens 12 September 2023 (09:00 BST)
National application window 20 September 2023 (09:00 BST) – 4 October 2023 (12:00 midday BST)
Deadline to rank and amend Foundation School/UoA preferences for FP on Oriel 14 February 2024 (12:00 midday GMT)
Allocation to Foundation School 7 March 2024
Reference submission window opens 7 March – 12 July 2024
Programme preferencing window (1-stage process) 7 – 27 March 2024 (12:00 midday GMT)
Group preferencing window (2-stage process) 7 – 13 March 2024 (12:00 midday GMT)
Group match results released 18 March 2024
Programme preferencing window (2-stage process) 18 – 27 March 2024 (12:00 midday GMT)
Programme match results released to applicants 11 April 2024

You can find a full breakdown of all dates relating to the UKFPO 2024, including when guidance is published and pre-allocation dates, here.

What are the Specialist Foundation Programme, Foundation Priority Programme and Psychiatry Foundation Fellowships?

As a foundation doctor, the specialist foundation programme (SFP) provides you with the opportunity to develop your research, teaching and leadership skills, in addition to achieving the FP curriculum competencies.

The foundation priority programme (FPP) is designed to attract and retain doctors in specific areas of the UK, including remote, rural and coastal geographies, under-doctored geographies and shortage specialities. They offer a range of incentives, such as financial benefits, unique teaching and leadership opportunities and specialty experiences.

There are up to forty-six psychiatry foundation fellowships (PFF) available for 2024 entry. The application process is separate from the UKPRO process (and takes place after allocation to FP) and is managed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

You can find out more about the recruitment process for the SFP, FPP and PFF in the applicant guidance here.

Note: It has been announced that from 2025, applications to SFP will be incorporated into the main FP allocation process. This is relevant to applicants applying to NHS England, NHS Education for Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency. This process already applies for Wales. We will provide more information on how this will affect applying, preferencing and allocation for SFP in 2025 when more details have been published.

Less than full time training (LTFT)

Whilst applying for the UKFPO, you’ll have the option to indicate on your application form if you would like to train on a less than full time basis. Once you have been allocated a foundation school, it is recommended that you discuss this with them. When it comes to ranking the jobs within your foundation school, you should only rank jobs you wish to be considered for – those offering less than full time working – and any you would not accept should be listed in the ‘not wanted’ column.

For more information on how to effectively rank the foundation jobs – whether you’re applying for LTFT or not – visit our Foundation Job Ranking blog. Or, if you’ve already got a region in mind, you can take a look at the various jobs that were available in 2023 using our Foundation Job Ranker (we’ll be updating with the 2024 jobs when Oriel releases them).

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