More support needed for SAS doctors according to RCP nationwide survey

The RCP is calling for greater support and recognition of specialty and associate specialty doctors (SAS) following a nationwide survey. In particular, all hospitals must fully implement the SAS Charter and SAS development guide in order to address the issues raised.

Among respondents to the SAS physicians survey 2018, which took place in the UK from June to September, only 13% said their hospital had fully implemented the SAS Charter, and another 32% that it had been implemented partially. 37% were clear that it had not been implemented at all.

Just 16% of respondents said their hospital had fully implemented SAS doctor development, with another 37% saying it had been partially implemented. 31% were clear that it had not been implemented at all.

Dr Waleed Arshad, RCP SAS lead, said:

SAS doctors are a crucial element of the physician workforce, particularly at a time when 45% of consultant posts go unfilled. Many are working on-call alongside consultants and are regularly asked to fill gaps in the consultant rota.

But even though the majority say they enjoy their job, fewer than half would recommend the role to a trainee doctor or do it again themselves if they could turn back time. They say the lack of recognition, in terms of pay and progression, makes the role unattractive.

We are also very concerned that a fifth of respondents to our survey said they had been the victim of bullying, harassment or victimisation at work in the past year. These doctors were more likely to be women, overseas graduates or over the age of 50.

SAS doctors must have an appropriate contract, annual job planning and access to development. The RCP will not approve any SAS roles without at least 1.5 SPA for revalidation and CPD.

Dr Waleed Arshad, RCP SAS lead

Every hospital needs to implement the SAS Charter and SAS development guide to address these issues. SAS doctors must have an appropriate contract, annual job planning and access to development. The RCP will not approve any SAS roles without at least 1.5 SPA for revalidation and CPD.

The RCP has long-recognised that many SAS doctors are as knowledgeable and skilled as their consultant colleagues, which it confirmed in its recent Guidance on safe medical staffing. The RCP is now asking its fellows to nominate SAS doctors who are in senior roles for fellowship, so they are given due recognition.

The RCP has a reduced membership rate for SAS doctors, and we are looking for enthusiastic colleagues to fill vacant positions on our SAS Regional Representative Network. My hope is that by the middle of 2019 we will have a network across England, Northern Ireland and Wales that will work with SAS doctors to understand and resolve these and other issues.