Answers to frequently asked questions about Staff and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors and Locally Employed Doctors (LEDs)
What is an SAS doctor?
"SAS" doctor stands for a "Specialty and Associate Specialist" doctor.
These are permanent posts with national terms and conditions and recognised career progression and pay thresholds.
You need to have at least 2 years' full-time working in the specialty (at least 4 years post-medical degree) before becoming eligible to apply for a SAS doctor post.
The term SAS doctor also includes some doctors still on old Staff Grade and Associate Specialist contracts, although most of these were converted to Specialty Doctor posts.
Why consider a career as a SAS doctor?
It is possible to have a full and satisfying career as a SAS doctor, and it can be seen as an alternative to a consultant career in our specialty.
- Advantages include geographical stability at an earlier stage in your career and possibility of regular hours and sessions.
- Assuming you have the appropriate experience and proven ability to work safely alone, then there is the possibility of autonomous practice.
- SAS doctors can also train to become educators (Educational supervisors of foundation doctors and/or GP or RCOG trainees), be involved in research as local Principle Investigators for national trials, or leaders in their departments or hospitals.
- Career development in these posts is about opportunity and ability, not job title.
- You do not need to be on the Specialist Register to be a senior SAS doctor, although some of these doctors are (see below for information on Specialist Register).
How can I become a SAS doctor?
You need at least 2 years' full-time experience in the specialty before you apply (see above), but you can apply at any level of experience, and should negotiate to enter the grade at a level appropriate to your previous experience.
Jobs are advertised nationally, but if you have a specific unit in mind, it is always worth making local enquiries as to what might be possible.
You don't need to be on the specialist register or have MRCOG to be a SAS doctor, although many do.
What is a Locally Employed Doctor (LED)?
Locally Employed Doctors (LED’s) are employed by trusts on local terms and conditions, so they are usually non-permanent posts and do not have nationally agreed terms and conditions (unlike SAS doctors).
There is also no nationally recognised career or pay progression thresholds for these posts.
There are a large variety of LED names: Clinical Fellow, Teaching Fellow, Trust Doctor, Trust Registrar, Trust SHO, F3 etc.
Doctors can enter a junior trust doctor post without a minimum of 2 years in the specialty.
Like SAS doctors and Consultants, LE doctors need to have an annual appraisal and 5-yearly revalidations.
The trust is under no obligation to provide specialty training unless it is agreed in the job plan.
Some trusts have created local “CESR training” programmes for trust and SAS Doctors, but this is very much under control/discretion of local employing trust/department.
You don’t need to be on the specialist register or have MRCOG to be a trust doctor.
What is CESR?
See the RCOG website's CESR page
Can SAS/LE Doctors do ATSMs?
See ATSM for SAS/LE Doctors
How can I develop my career as a SAS Doctor?
Be alert to opportunities that arise and any gaps in local service provision that you could develop yourself to fill and offer to help do this.
These posts are essentially service provision posts, so the employing Trust is under no obligation to provide additional paid time for specialty training unless this is an agreed part of the job plan.
- This may be able to be negotiated locally if such training will enable the SAS doctor to provide a local service that is currently lacking or needs improvement, for example.
- Generic developmental needs (leadership, teaching etc.) can often be provided by SAS Development funding, available through local SAS Tutors and/or Health Education regional centres.
- Provision of these funds currently varies around the country but in England there are plans to make access to these funds more equitable in future.
Ensure your CD and other senior colleagues are aware that you are keen to develop your role.
Discuss with your CD if there are any departmental leadership roles you could take on – audit, guidelines, maternity day unit etc. Could you manage the rota or organise the departmental teaching?
- Find out if you have a local SAS Tutor, and through your SAS Tutor/DME find out what is being provided in your region to help develop SAS Doctors
- If there isn’t one, consider asking your local Director of Medical Education about becoming one
- Look out for generic courses in becoming an educational supervisor, trainer, examiner, leader, mentor, coach
- Contact your local research department to see what research projects there are presently that you could get involved with or could be a principle investigator for in future, and update your GCP eLearning
- Consider roles outside your own department
- Ask about local appraiser training (SAS doctor appraisers can appraise consultants as well as other SAS Doctors)
- Consider taking part in formal education of undergraduate medical students or allied health professionals; train to sit on interview panels; get involved in hospital induction of SAS doctors?
- Consider RCOG roles , look into becoming an examiner at the RCOG
It is often a case of being alert and proactive and willing to work for what you want to achieve, as well as letting others know you are interested in developing yourself, so they think of you when new opportunities arise.
How can I link up with other SAS and Locally Employed Doctors?
We are keen to help develop some regional networks of O&G SAS / LE Doctors.
If you are interested in helping with this then a good place to start is with your local SAS Tutor if you have one, who should have links with SAS Tutors in other parts of your region.
Also try contacting your local College Tutor or Head of School who may be willing to contact regional College Tutors on your behalf.
LE Doctors can be harder to locate as often these jobs are not permanent and because the posts have so many different job titles.
To discuss any of the above – or any other questions relating to SAS/LE Doctors not covered above or elsewhere on the RCOG website – please contact Laura Hipple, National Lead for SAS doctors at the RCOG, at LHipple@rcog.org.uk