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Improved support for SAS doctors

5 March 2019


The country’s Specialty and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors will have access to improved support and better development opportunities thanks to measures announced by Health Education England (HEE) today.

SAS doctors make up 20% of the medical workforce but many say they lack workplace support, find it hard to move between specialties, have limited access to training and some have reported bullying.

New measures outlined in Maximising the potential: essential measures to support SAS doctors sets out how HEE, NHS Improvement, NHS Employers and other partners will work together to support and develop SAS doctors.

These include:

  • The implementation of a SAS charter to better understand and address the current challenges;
  • The development of an improved data set about SAS doctors;
  • Making sure SAS doctors are offered development opportunities linked to patient need, their experience and career aspirations;
  • Exploring how SAS doctors who wish to return to formal training can be better supported to do so;
  • Consistency of funding for SAS doctors, in terms of geography and in activities funded through SAS tutors, associate deans and/or a nominated individual with responsibilty for SAS doctors;
  • Exploring how SAS doctors can be involved more effectively by colleges as part of the education process, specifically as educational and clinical supervisors for doctors in training; and
  • Exploring the extent to which developments in credentialing can include opportunities to develop SAS doctors.

Professor Wendy Reid, Director Education and Quality, Health Education England said:

We know that SAS doctors make a key contribution to the delivery of care for patients. The challenge now is to make sure that their talent is properly recognised across the system and that they have better support for training and development opportunities.

We need to improve the environment in which they work and this guidance will help us to make sure better processes are in place to support this key and growing group of staff.

I would like to thank all the organisations who have helped in the development of this guidance and recognise the important role SAS doctors can play in workforce transformation plans and building multi-disciplinary teams to deliver safe and effective care for patients.


Dr Kathy McLean, Executive Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer of NHS improvement said:

We know more can be done to ensure SAS doctors feel that they are a supported and valued part of our medical workforce.

This guidance is an important step in recognising the challenges faced by SAS doctors and the ways we can all work together to improve their training and development.

The NHS Long Term Plan highlighted the need for greater support for SAS doctors, this work will help achieve that and make sure that becoming an SAS doctor is an attractive career choice.

To view the report visit https://www.hee.nhs.uk/supporting-sas-doctors