Statement responding to the SAS Survey by NHS Employers
The Association of Anaesthetists and its SAS Committee welcome this survey from NHS Employers, and particularly the focus on supporting and retaining SAS doctors and the SAS Charter. It comes as no surprise to us that many respondents report difficulties recruiting SAS doctors. Whilst some of this is due to a lack of supply of SAS doctors, this survey also shows there are many reasons causing SAS doctors to leave SAS posts, including morale, workload and lack of career development. It is heartening to see that many organisations have put in place measures to support and promote their SAS doctors, such as enhanced annual leave, trust Associate Specialist posts and support to gain Certificate of Eligibility of Specialist Registration (CESR). These are all measures that the Association of Anaesthetists have been calling for, and we would urge all departments to look at the report’s findings and see how they can improve morale and retention amongst SAS colleagues.
The focus on the SAS Charter is particularly welcome as it sets out clearly measures for organisations to support, promote and encourage their SAS doctors. It is good to see that a majority have taken considerable steps to implementing the charter. However, six years after the Charter’s introduction, this is not universal. Involvement of SAS doctors in organisations’ structures and processes is important; this ensures their perspective is represented, encouraging engagement and acknowledges their importance in delivery of the service. Likewise, accurate coding of work done by SAS doctors as having been done by them, rather than by a distantly supervising consultant, is essential so that their contribution is fully recognised.
At the Association of Anaesthetists, we believe in promoting the vital contribution that SAS anaesthetists make to the NHS and in recognising their work. We have a number of downloadable resources to help individuals and departments to do this. We are also very keen on helping our SAS members develop their careers and potential; we provide sessions at educational meetings, occasional seminars and downloadable resources.
We are pleased that another light has been shone on the issues affecting SAS doctors and hope this can be used to help to recognise, promote and retain our SAS colleagues. Negotiations are currently underway for a new SAS contract and we hope this will also address some of the issues raised in the report.
Dr Thomas James
SAS Committee Chair, Association of Anaesthetists
Dr Kathleen Fergusson
President, Association of Anaesthetists