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Expand SAS development scheme, says BMA

BMA SASC co-chair Amit Kochhar at conference 2015

A development programme for SAS doctors launched by two NHS trusts should serve as a model to other organisations, the BMA has said.

Around 80 staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors benefit from a single continuous professional development programme, which aims to encourage greater understanding of SAS doctors' work, and enhance patient care.

The programme, which was launched in June this year, is the result of a joint initiative between the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

BMA staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors committee chair Amit Kochhar welcomed the innovative and collaborative approach that the trusts had undertaken, adding that a similar approach could reap benefits across the country.

He said: ‘The health service is facing considerable pressures, not least in the form of recruitment and retention. In such an environment, making use of the skills and experience of SAS doctors [is] a crucial component in addressing these pressures.

‘However, in order to maximise the potential of SAS staff, it is vital that they have adequate opportunities to keep their skills and knowledge up to date via continued professional development.'


Funding cuts

Dr Kochhar added: ‘With SAS doctors having seen significant cuts to their career development funding over recent years, it is encouraging that these two trusts have taken a collaborative approach which will hopefully, ultimately benefit doctors and patients.’

The programme includes:

  • SAS leadership development
  • Quality improvement
  • Trainer roles
  • Appraisal. 

Cumbria partnership NHS trust director of medical education Sam Dearman said that the venture would promote development in a natural learning community of doctors based on a model of collaborative working.

He credited the programme to the hard work, good planning, design and leadership shown by SAS staff at the two trusts.

He said: ‘It is very pleasing that our collaborative SAS development programme is working well and receiving local and national interest.

‘I hope it is a good example that has an understanding of medical development ‎at its heart that recognises why valuing SAS doctors is so important, and realises that joint work between trusts produces something better than we could do alone.’

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