Supporting SAS doctors - our new report

Specialty, Associate Specialist and Staff Grade (SAS) doctors are a key part of the paediatric workforce, but are often undervalued and are reducing in number. SAS doctors are senior clinicians with at least four years training in paediatrics, are not a consultant and are not currently in specialty training. This new report from the RCPCH outlines the latest workforce data on SAS doctors in paediatrics and gives recommendations for how employers and workforce planning bodies can better support this essential group.

SAS doctors are an important part of the paediatric workforce with nearly 800 whole time equivalents working across the UK. Most work in community child health, many in key roles such as Named Doctors for Looked After Children and Medical Adviser for Adoption. Furthermore, there is an average of one SAS doctor on every general paediatric rota in the UK – vital for the maintenance of services and reducing gaps.

Our new report looks at the paediatric SAS workforce in detail using data from the RCPCH 2017 workforce census. For many years numbers have fallen at the same time as confusion about the SAS role has grown. This needs to be reversed if there is to be a more plural and integrated workforce in the future.

The report recommends a number of measures for workforce planners and employers including:

  • Reintroduce the Associate Specialist grade
  • Implement The Charter for SAS Doctors
  • Ensure SAS doctor involvement in local services, including training and supervising trainees and other staff
  • Implement the minimum number of SPAs in the SAS doctor contract
  • Provide opportunities for SAS doctors to develop special interests and work as independent practitioners
  • Increase the number of SAS doctors in the UK by about one third

Read our full report