Foundation Programme (FP) in NCTFS

Recruitment to NCTFS is run by the UK Foundation Programme Office (UKFPO) through the national online Foundation Programme Application System (FPAS).

The first stage is to apply for a place in a foundation school. The second stage is to apply for a programme within the school to which you are allocated. Therefore, the 'stage 2' section on this site refers only to the  applicants successfully allocated to this school.

NCTFS has two-year programmes located in eight linked NHS Trusts (four in a London Local Education and Training Board (LETB) and four in the East of England LETB). These extend to Basildon in the East and Luton and Stevenage in the North. Therefore an application to this school should not be viewed as an application for  London posts only.

Stage 1 : Applying to NCTFS (all applicants)

The website address for the application process is It contains comprehensive information on all aspects of the application system. The three main resources published on the UKFPO website are:

  • The Foundation Applicant’s Handbook
  • The national recruitment process (PowerPoint presentation)
  • A podcast for applicants to the Foundation Programme

The Foundation Applicant’s Handbook is the definitive guide to applying to the Foundation Programme. It covers such topics as:

  • The timeline and process
  • Ensuring you are eligible to apply
  • Guidance on references
  • Competition ratios for the past four years by foundation school
  • How applications are scored
  • What happens if there are more applicants than places available

Stage 2 : Applying for a two-year programme within NCTFS (successful applicants only)

All applicants should note that:

  1. Due to a large number of NHS Trust service reconfigurations, all posts may be subject to change (sometimes at short notice) in relation to placement order, specialty, length and site. All F1 and F2 posts are subject to confirmation at any time during your Foundation Programme.
  2. As placements may be subject to change, trainees receive a further confirmation of their F2 placements during F1 year (usually in February)
  3. Foundation training is not in any way training for Specialty. Trainees will work in a mixture of surgical and medical placements giving them general training they need in order to achieve Foundation competencies.

Please click on a relevant link below to get more information about:

Two-year programmes in NCTFS

Please keep in mind that all programmes may be subject to change at any time.

  • For entry in August 2016, NCTFS has 318 standard two-year programmes available.
  • A list of our two-year programmes is published here during stage 2 of the application process. The programmes can also be viewed on the UKFPO application site during the entire application period.
  • The Foundation Post Description section provides detailed information about particular placements/specialties.
  • The linked hospitals section provides information about each of the nine hospitals/Trusts linked to NCTFS.

Candidates are informed of their overall score by UKFPO when they are allocated to a foundation school. For posts starting in August 2016, anyone applying to this school and scoring 81.64 or above was successful in gaining a place.

The range of scores (for successful applicants to NCTFS starting in August 2016) is shown below. This may help in deciding how many programmes to choose when competing in the programme allocation process (do not confuse this with your medical school quartile or decile ranking):

Total Score    Number of Applicants

92 - 100                   8

91 - 91.99                7

90 - 90.99               14

89 - 89.99               17

88 - 88.99               19

87 - 87.99               19

86 - 86.99               26

85 - 85.99               21

84 - 84.99               27

83 - 83.99               63

82 - 82.99               55

81 - 81.99               26

The score awarded at the time of application for foundation schools will be used again in the process of application for programmes. Therefore, the lower your score, the less likely you are to obtain your first choice or a programme in a more popular specialty or hospital (as a general guide, the further from central London a hospital is, the less popular it tends to be).

NCTFS Open Day

North Central Thames Foundation School holds an Open Day for all final year medical students soon after they find out they are allocated to our foundation school. Each of our nine sites will have a stall staffed by clinical, administrative and F1 or F2 trainee respresentatives. It is an opportunity for those allocated into our foundation school to ask questions in person and gain a greater understanding of what each Trust may have to offer before submitting their programme preferences. This year, the Open Day was held on Wednesday 9th March 2016. Please see the slides from the foundation school presentation here.

Ranking the programmes

You may choose as many programmes as you wish. Our advice is to rank as many programmes as possible, and you should rank them all if you are towards the bottom of the score range. You will probably find it useful to order your chosen programmes before you enter the choices into the system. There is no minimum number of programmes to rank, but you should bear in mind that if you are not successfully allocated to one of your choices, you will be randomly allocated to an unfilled place.

Allocation to programmes

All trainees will be put in score order. Each trainee, from the highest scorer first, will be allocated to their first choice of programme which is still available. This means that if your final score appears in the third or fourth quartiles, it is more important to put a substantial number of programmes down to avoid the possibility of being left unmatched and then being randomly allocated to one of the remaining posts.

Once allocated, applicants may not exchange posts with one another, nor may an applicant change to another post in the event of a vacancy occurring.

Applicants will be expected to accept their allocated programmes, even if these are in locations for which the applicant has expressed no preference.

Special circumstances and linked applications

Applicants who are allocated to NCTFS by way of special circumstances should be aware that it does not guarantee a specific programme or hospital/Trust. Please see the NCTFS special circumstances allocation policy here.

Applicants who are allocated to NCTFS by way of linked application should be aware that our school does not offer the option of linking applications for programmes.  Therefore, pairs of applicants who wish to be in the same area must give careful consideration to their programme preferences.

The deadline

The deadline to submit your preferences for specific foundation programmes for an August 2016 start is Wednesday 23rd March at 23.59. No late applications are accepted as once the national system shuts, it cannot be re-opened. If you fail to submit your application by the deadline you will be randomly allocated to an unfilled programme.

It can take a long time to rank the programmes. Please keep in mind that the longer you leave it, the longer it will take as the system may get slower towards the deadline.

FAQs and important information

Please refer to our FAQ section on this website. It contains important information that you may need before you are due to start your F1 job. If information you require is not there, you will need to contact your employing NHS Trust directly (either HR or the Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) Centre). You may do this after you know to which Trust you are allocated.