Benefits of SAS doctor jobs in the NHS UK

  • April 13, 2020

Specialty and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors are employed in the NHS in a non-training post. An SAS doctor will have at least four years of postgraduate training, at least two of which will be in a relevant specialty. 

SAS doctor jobs in the UK are paid well and the number of posts available in the UK have risen steadily over the past decade. They are an attractive way for both the NHS and IMGs to ensure doctors are secured into posts quickly. 

In this article we will consider the following topics: 

What is a SAS doctor? 

Specialty and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors fill NHS service roles which sit outside of the Specialty Training pathway. These roles are non-training ‘service’ roles where the doctor has at least four years of postgraduate training, at least two of those being in a relevant specialty.

A variety of terms can be applied to SAS doctors, including specialty doctor, associate specialist and staff grade. 

It is worth noting however that not all non-training medical roles (service posts) are SAS doctors. Service roles are available across all grades and can be commonly referred to as Trust doctors. 

Could I take a training post instead?  

Yes of course. Training posts in the NHS are very attractive however competition for places on these posts is highly competitive. 

As such for IMGs interested in securing a place on a training post in the NHS, we advise that they should obtain a trust doctor or SAS doctor post, depending on experience, for 1 – 2 years. Following which you will be able to apply for a training post, for which you will be given priority. 

Not only will this approach give you the best chance of securing excellent training and career progression opportunities in the NHS, it will also give you the chance to settle in to the UK, get to know your trust better, and help you understand the training post that will suit you the most. 

SAS doctor jobs also offer very competitive rates, so whilst you are getting to know the NHS and settling into life in the UK, you can also ensure that you are financially rewarded.

What are the benefits to a SAS role?

Less competition and a route to Specialty Training

The majority of IMGs are keen to enter the specialty training pathway at some point, but competition for these positions is very high. Places are offered to UK based applicants first, then EEA applicants, finally followed by Non-EEA applicants.

As such, it can be difficult to get a training post when applying for your first NHS role. 

However, competition for service roles is not nearly so competitive and following completion of one year as a Specialty doctor you can enter into the first group of applicants for specialty training.

Allowing you time to settle into the UK and NHS

Taking a service role can be a great way to allow yourself time to bed into NHS and UK culture in the first months following your move. By taking on a new culture, employer and healthcare system all at once, you may feel more comfortable taking on a SAS post, avoiding all the extra commitment and learning associated with a training role.

Quicker route to securing your first post

For overseas doctors applying for SAS posts, the process can be quicker. Less competition and a high demand for doctors will ensure that IMG Connect can secure you interviews quickly. 

Financial reward

SAS posts typically offer competitive salaries, with some harder to fill locations able to offer additional incentives. Speak with your IMG Consultant for more information. 

More patient focused roles and less responsibility

SAS roles are usually more focused on meeting NHS service requirements compared to trainee roles. Many doctors simply prefer a role where they can spend more time with patients and doing the job they love, without the pressured commitment to training, admin and competition that a training role brings.

Balance between work and personal life

When taking a SAS post, additional working hours and on call commitments can be optional. 

You will also be given the option to increase your overall hours through weekend and shift work, which will increase your overall take home pay. 

In most circumstances it is up to you how you want to approach balancing a life at home with work commitments & financial rewards. 

Freedom to consider all parts of the UK

Entering a training post is not only a commitment to the programme over a number of years, but also the geographical location that the deanery covers.

By taking a service role instead, you could complete a one-two year contract, but realise the area is not for you. At this point you could take a new contract and not have to worry about giving up your hard-earned place on the training programme. 

Remember, it is vital that all contracts are honoured and not only will breaking contract have a negative impact on your CV but may also damage your chances of securing your next post. 

Specialist Registration is still possible

Specialist registration is still possible via the CESR route as some hospitals or Trusts will offer SAS doctors the support required with their CESR applications. However, it is likely to be a much longer process when not taking the training pathway.

In summary:

There are many reasons why a SAS post can be a great option for experienced IMGs when considering their first job in the UK, and it is clear that trust doctors are vital to the day to day running of the NHS.

Regardless of the route you wish to take, IMG Connect will support any doctor pursing either path and can offer guidance and advice throughout either process.

So how do I secure a SAS doctor job in the NHS? 

You can apply for SAS doctor roles online via the the NHS Jobs websites for England & Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

However, working with IMG Connect can offer more jobs than are available online with the added benefit of an IMG Consultant speaking directly with services on your behalf to expedite the process and negotiate the best doctor salary for you.

For the most comprehensive selection of roles and fastest routes to the UK for Trust Doctors, register an interest or apply for trust doctor roles via our Job Search page on our website.

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