Home » Advice » Advisory Appointments Committees (AAC)

Advisory Appointments Committees (AAC)

The following information has been designed as a guide for trust medical staffing departments when planning appointments for consultant, specialty doctor or honorary consultant posts.

Important notice considering COVID-19

Job descriptions reviews

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted on the availability of our advisers to review job descriptions. Considering this we suggest:

  • where possible, that you postpone any requests for non-urgent reviews.
  • If you wish to submit a job description for review, please note it will take significantly longer to obtain the outcome of a review.
  • for urgent cases we suggest you proceed to advertise your post and seek a retrospective RCP review, on the proviso that any applicants are sent the approved job description before the interview.


We appreciate that the COVID-19 outbreak has had an impact on the availability of clinicians to attend AACs. In light of this the RCP recommends:

  • any upcoming AACs are planned in good time (at least 8 weeks’ notice)
  • to avoid any travel of college representatives and instead to use videoconference software to conduct interviews
  • to contact us immediately if a college representative is no longer available to attend a forthcoming AAC
  • to contact us if AACs are rescheduled or cancelled.

We will of course endeavour to do what we can to support the AAC process.

Kitemark for job descriptions

The RCP is offering a next-day service to place an ‘RCP-approved’ stamp on approved job descriptions before they are published to make vacancies more appealing to applicants.

Job description reviews

Before posts are advertised for consultant and specialty doctor posts, medical staffing departments should complete the job description review (JDR) form. The JDR form and job description should be sent to the local regional office for processing.

The average time taken to respond with a review of a job description is three weeks from receipt of the completed JDR form.

Please download the flowchart below for further information on the approval process.

Consultant posts

It is a legal requirement for all doctors to be on the GMC’s specialist register before they can take up a consultant appointment. Specialist registrars who have CCT dates no more than six months from the date of an AAC may apply and be interviewed. It is advisable that all other categories of doctors should be on (or likely to be on) the specialist register, before being considered for a consultant appointment by an AAC.

For advice on job planning requirements refer to the RCP guidance for approval of NHS consultant job descriptions.

Academic posts with honorary consultant status

The RCP strongly advises universities wishing to appoint to senior clinical academic posts with honorary consultant status to seek advice from RCP regional advisers on the clinical component of job descriptions. Please note that holders of honorary contracts cannot fill paid NHS consultant posts without fulfilling the provision of the regulations.

Please refer to the NHS guidance above on senior clinical academics/honorary consultant contracts.

Universities should bear in mind the great importance attached by the profession to obtaining approval of the job description.

Please use the above 'Job description review form - consultant' when making approval requests for these job descriptions.

SAS doctor posts

The RCP has no statutory role in the appointment of specialist grade and specialty doctor posts but considers its involvement a good practice.

Specialist grade

The specialist grade introduced in April 2021 requires employers to use the generic capabilities framework and template person specification, which they will develop based on the requirements of the service. A doctor in this grade:

  • Shall have full registration and licence to practice with the General Medical Council.
  • Shall have completed a minimum of 12 years medical work (either continuous period or in aggregate) since obtaining a primary medical qualification, of which a minimum of 6 years should have been in a relevant specialty.
  • Shall meet the criteria set out in the generic capabilities framework that has been developed. 

Specialty doctor

A doctor in this grade:

  • Shall have full registration and licence to practice with the General Medical Council
  • Shall have completed at least 4 years’ full-time postgraduate training (or its equivalent gained on a part time or flexible basis) at least 2 of which will be in a specialty training programme in a relevant specialty or as a fixed term specialty trainee in a relevant specialty; or equivalent experience and competencies.

Setting up an Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC)

Role of the college representative

The college representative is a core member of an AAC panel. Their main role is to assess the training of applicants to make sure they are suitable for the post and have the necessary qualifications. RCP college representatives are full members of an AAC and should be included in the shortlisting process except for SAS doctor AACs where shortlisting is not required.

As soon as a college representative is secured for an AAC, the health authority should contact them with details of the AAC. The RCP will send college representatives a guidance pack detailing the role.

Process for requesting a college representative at an AAC

Medical staffing departments should notify the RCP as soon as an AAC date is confirmed even if this is at the job planning stage. Please note we require at least eight weeks’ notice to secure a college representative for an AAC. The process differs between NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts.

NHS trusts

For NHS trusts, the RCP has a statutory role to play in the appointment of consultants. The NHS (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996 (amended 2004) states that an external representative from the relevant college or faculty should be included in the core membership of an AAC. The Department of Health (DoH) website has useful guidance on this subject.

NHS foundation trusts

The RCP recognises that the majority of foundation trusts continue to involve the RCP in the AAC process, which is supported by a named college representative service. Medical staffing departments should email requests to the RCP who will try to secure a college representative for you. For NHS foundation trust AACs we can only process requests for a college representative with at least eight weeks’ notice prior to the AAC date.

Data processing statements