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After seven years' service as a consultant in England doctors are eligible for two additional days leave (Consultants Contract in England Schedule 18, paragraph 1). A similar benefit exists for Agenda for Change staff who receive two additional days leave after 5 years' service and four further days after 10 years' service bringing their leave allowance to 33 days (Agenda for Change para 5.11).
Yet for those dedicated SAS doctors who are arguably the workhorse of our NHS there is no such additional entitlement in the national TCS. The BMA has been waging a campaign for the last five years to encourage employers to grant this small, and relatively inexpensive marker to recognise the contribution that their SAS doctors make to ensuring patients receive the very highest standards of care. This is more equitable with consultant and other NHS colleagues and can inspire loyalty and improve motivation. Those Trusts that have awarded the extra leave will get much more in return from their SAS doctors as well as improvements in recruitment and retention which is a priority issue across England at the moment.
There are now over forty forward-thinking employers across England who have agreed local policies to reward 7 years' service in the SAS grades with two additional days leave. Most, but not all, are Foundation Trusts and there are a mixture of Acute and Mental Health Trusts.
There are 7 across the South of England (21 if the forward looking South West is included) to have agreed to additional leave. The latest to do so was Kent and Medway Partnership Trust.
Those in the South East/ South Central regions are:
Some Trusts have decided to award an incremental increase in leave, beginning with one extra day (after ten years' service) and agreeing to review that at a later date. It is at least a step in the right direction. There's one Trust in the South East; Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust who have taken this step. We applauded them at the time as they were the first Trust in the South East to offer any additional leave to SAS doctors. We hope they will soon recognise that the handful of SAS doctors employed at the Trust should be fully rewarded for their loyalty to the NHS and should have the same leave allowance as their colleagues across the NHS.
Of course, annual leave is one strand of a wider approach to better recognising the SAS workforce and we hope that Trusts will also adopt the BMA SAS Charter and the recommendations within it.
I am optimistic that as the critical mass of Trusts that have demonstrated their commitment to their SAS workforce increases, eventually all will have to follow this lead. As the NHS struggles to retain and recruit staff the door is now open. Our job is to keep pushing at the door so please raise this with your SAS LNC reps and at every opportunity at your Trust. Enlist the support of colleagues to gain parity. Together we are stronger.
Well done to the BMA and the SAS doctors in their persistence and efforts. These will give the SAS doctors of Medway NHS Foundation Trust in the same area sufficient ammunition to achieve similar results. This issue is something that I will be raising in our LNC meeting coming up in October along with our BMA rep Mr.Muchie
Thanks for your excellent blog, Hugh.
In line with AFC staff and parity with consultant, , senior SAS drs who have worked more than seven years, to have two days of extra leave will simply encourage and raise the morale of SAs drs. We will continue to push for this. Together we stand, together we shine.
I understand that Sussex Partnership LNC have recently also agreed to additional two days leave. I await further details but it seems that another South East Trust has joined the growing numbers that are demonstrating some of the value that they place on their SAS workforce.
Excellent blog! Employers should understand that SAS doctors are short in supply and if they are not well looked after, they may move to greener pastures. They no longer can hide behind the contract. It is only fair that all are given equal leave.