SAS contract statement
Tuesday 16 February 2021
We welcome the announcement of the new SAS contracts for England and Wales and the career pathway these provide. Details of the contracts for Northern Ireland will hopefully follow soon, and these contracts will be put to a referendum of SAS doctors in these nations. Since 2009, when the window for regrading as an Associate Specialist closed, there has been no national mechanism to recognise the seniority and expertise of Specialty Doctors. The long-awaited return of a senior appointment in the form of the proposed ‘Specialist' grade is, therefore, particularly welcome.
We recognise that many existing Specialty Doctors are already providing senior, autonomous service within their departments. Should SAS doctors vote to accept these new contracts, Clinical Directors/Heads of Service should be encouraged to facilitate these Specialty Doctors being appointed to this new Specialist grade to recognise their seniority and retain them within the specialty.
In a workforce crisis, Trusts and Boards should be doing everything within their power to provide the stability, protections and career progression of SAS roles.
A recent census found that the number of anaesthetists on national SAS contracts has not changed significantly since 2015. Meanwhile, the number of those on non-standard, often temporary, contracts has risen considerably. Many of these locally employed doctors are providing vital ongoing service within their departments, and should be offered the permanence, protections and career path that the Specialty Doctor and Specialist contracts provide. In a workforce crisis, Trusts and Boards should be doing everything within their power to provide the stability, protections and career progression of SAS roles. To do otherwise risks losing valuable experience and ability from our specialty, which we can ill afford.
Dr Mike Nathanson, President
Dr Robert Fleming, Elected Board Member and Chair, SAS Committee
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