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Who are SAS Surgeons?

SAS surgeons work at various career grades in hospitals. Although the term ‘SAS’ (or ‘Staff, Associate Specialists and Specialty doctors) is frequently used, there are a number of job titles included within this umbrella term. In future the most common of these will likely be the specialty doctor. See our position statement for further information about SAS terminology.

SAS posts are also often referred to as career grades. They were previously referred to as Non-Consultant Career Grade (NCCG) and middle grades, though these terms are discouraged. 

SAS posts comprise staff grades, associate specialists, specialty doctors, clinical assistants, hospital practitioners and other non-standard, non-training Trust grades.

What do SAS surgeons do?

Responsibilities and training among SAS surgeons vary greatly. Some are engaged in major complex surgery while others provide minor diagnostic procedures and outpatient services. The majority of SAS surgeons carry out elective and routine surgery; their contribution being important to the provision of many surgical services and achieving targets.

Some SAS surgeons provide a service that requires a generalist approach, working across specialised fields, allowing a unique insight into many areas within a specialty.

Research and training

SAS surgeons are also frequently instrumental in research and training juniors. They can engage in managerial, training and committee activities, and provide continuity in departments when trainees come and go on short rotations.

SAS working hours

SAS surgeons frequently work more regular hours than consultant or trainee colleagues, experiencing a different life/work balance. For full-time specialty doctors, the working week is normally 40 hours, comprising 10 programmed activities (PAs), or blocks of time, of four hours each. Most of these are dedicated to clinical work (including administration) and at least one of these must be for supporting activities (e.g. continuing professional development). The College has produced guidance on Specialty Doctor job plans which provides further detail on this. 

SAS surgeons are paid extra if they work outside core hours and for any on-call duties they undertake. The level of supervision SAS surgeons receive varies depending upon their progression and seniority within the grade. At senior levels, SAS grades can work with a degree of autonomy. The BMA has produced useful guidance on this.

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