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.

Job description approvals - Introducing a new review process

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has introduced a new review system to provide the best possible service in approving job descriptions for NHS doctor posts. 

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 obtain approval of a job description is 3 weeks.

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 6 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 would strongly advise 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. It should be noted that holders of honorary contracts cannot fill paid NHS consultant posts without fulfilling the provision of the Regulations.

Please refer to the NHS guidance below 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.

Specialty doctor posts

The specialty doctors have at least four years postgraduate experience, two of which are in their chosen specialty. This means that doctors can move into these posts at various levels of experience and seniority, as well as gaining experience and promotion within the grade itself. As a matter of good practice the RCP recommends that trusts appointing to this grade should obtain approval of the job description

Setting up an Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC)

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

The 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 8 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 8 weeks’ notice prior to the AAC date.