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Who are SAS surgeons?

A number of posts fall under the umbrella of specialty and associate specialist (SAS) grade. These include staff grades, associate specialists, specialty doctors, clinical assistants, hospital practitioners and other non-standard, non-training Trust grades.

SAS posts are also often referred to as career grades. See our position statement for further information about SAS terminology. 

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 work/life balance. For full-time specialty doctors, the working week is normally 40 hours, comprising 10 programmed activities, 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 that 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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