Celebrating progress for the SAS grade

NISASC chair Leanne Davison writes about the importance of marking SAS Week in a time of great uncertainty for the health service

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Sunday 8 October 2023

Our members are working in a system in the midst of a four-pronged crisis in workforce, waiting lists, funding and political paralysis in our devolved administration. Doctors, frontline healthcare workers and our patients are bearing the brunt of this storm and with no good weather seemingly in sight.

However, it is still important to acknowledge hard work and progress in advancing the staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor grade within our workplaces, and what better way to shout about that than during SAS Week.  

After years of lobbying by NISASC and the SAS leads, the associate dean for SAS doctors has finally been approved. This post will be a key role in the coordination of the training and development of SAS doctors working in Northern Ireland and will enhance the brilliant work of the SAS leads in building the infrastructure for that.

We also continue to see momentum on the new specialist posts, with around 10 such posts now in in place. The Department of Health his now finally working towards recruitment for the SAS advocate role, something BMA Northern Ireland staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors deputy co-chair Siobhan Quinn blogged about during SAS Week last year. We will continue to lobby for this and keep you updated on how these progresses.

After sustained lobbying from NISASC deputy co-chair Clodagh Corrigan, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust has agreed to the appointment of a disability champion. This comes after her successful motion earlier this year at the UK SAS Conference and annual representative meeting and we hope other health trusts will follow this lead.  

We launched our SAS rate card this year, which outlines the rights and minimum pay rates for SAS doctors in working in Northern Ireland when asked by employers to deliver work beyond our standard contract and agreed job plan (extra-contractual work). It is vital that we value ourselves and value our time and ask to be paid appropriately for the work that we do.

These are all positive developments but lots more still needs to be done to improve staff morale and wellbeing. We continue to work on your behalf to ensure that SAS is a positive career choice.

I would ask you all to ensure your contact details are up to date and to encourage your colleagues to join the BMA.

I would encourage you all to register for our special SAS Week webinar that looks at all you need to know about pensions in association with Chase De Vere. This takes place on Thursday 12 October and you can register to attend here.

#SASWeek23 takes place from 9 to 13 October.


Leanne Davison is chair of the BMA Northern Ireland SAS committee