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It’s now been four years since we published the SAS charter in England. National charters followed shortly after in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all with the same objective – to recognise our diversity, our skills and experience and our contribution to the NHS by providing us with optimum working conditions.
How much do you know about the SAS charter?
It sets out your recruitment and appointment processes, making sure that SAS doctors are involved in the recruitment of other SAS doctors and that you are employed on national terms and conditions with appropriate and mutually agreed job plans. It sets out the need for the appropriate coding of your work to you, that you are recognised as the responsible senior clinician in charge of patient care, where this is appropriate, and that you have access to support, training and CPD in line with appraisal needs. It covers induction and values and behaviours, applications for CESR and opportunities to work autonomously.
The charter also sets out the types of roles that we can undertake. This is particularly important for us. Sometimes we can be reticent about the roles that we can and should be applying for, and how to go about doing this. Sometimes we don’t know what support exists. There are also many cases where our employers and managers could provide greater support and more opportunities. SAS doctors have so much to offer; we should be involved in management structures, from taking on positions such as educational supervisors to attending directorate meetings and undertaking academic posts. We should be represented on Local Negotiating Committees (LNCs) – but we should also be seeking out and taking on these opportunities.
Access to education and development is a key theme in the charter. Did you know that each Trust should have an appointed SAS Tutor? The SAS Tutor is your first point of contact and is there to support you and offer advice and guidance on career related issues, education and development, CESR applications and the use of SAS development funding. If you haven’t done so yet, I would recommend that you make contact with your SAS Tutor and find out what they can do to help you achieve your aims.
Unfortunately, the implementation of the Charter has taken longer than we had hoped. We identified that many Trusts have either not implemented it or have only implanted in part. This led us to a collaborative piece of work with NHS Employers to develop the SAS Charter Implementation Toolkit which has been launched this week. The toolkit sets out the key requirements of the charter and has been devised to be used in collaboration between Local Negotiating Committees and employers. I would urge you to have a look at the toolkit and the charter and ask yourselves which parts you feel have been implemented in your Trusts. A lot of the analysis will be undertaken at a department level, and this is a great opportunity for you to feed into this process.
You can read both the SAS charter and the SAS Charter Implementation Toolkit here.
I am also interested in hearing your thoughts on this work and your experiences of how the Charter is being implemented. Have you have been able to benefit from it or how you intend on using it in the future? Let us know by emailing [email protected]
Rajesh Kumar is deputy chair (education and development) of the BMA staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors committee