BMA staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors committee chair Amit Kochhar answers your questions
The BMA conducted a survey on SAS doctors last year. What do you think the most revealing results were and how will it affect the work of the committee in future?
With a significant lack of data on staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors, this survey was positive in setting a meaningful agenda for the committee. The purpose of our work is to act as a collective voice for SAS doctors, and we can only do this if we have the data on where the most pressing concerns lie.
An area that particularly struck me was the level of bullying, harassment and victimisation that this area of the workforce experiences; when asked in the survey if they had felt bullied, harassed or victimised in the workplace at least once in the past 12 months, an alarming 35 per cent of respondents said they had.
Of course, bullying and harassment spans the NHS workforce, but it disproportionately affects SAS doctors. This year’s conference on 22 May will facilitate a discussion on what positive actions the committee and the BMA can take to tackle this problem and push for a working environment that has zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour.
It’s now been two years since the launch of the SAS charters. What impact has this had on the working lives of SAS doctors, and what more needs to be done to roll out the charter?
The launch of the SAS charters, firstly in England and then quickly followed by the other devolved nations, was an important step in raising the profile of SAS doctors and provides more structure surrounding what is expected from SAS doctors, and in return what they can expect from their employers.
However, barriers remain which are hindering SAS doctors from feeling all the benefits of the charters. There are trusts that have not yet implemented the charter, married to this more than half of SAS doctors, according to our survey, are not aware that these charters exist. Tackling these two issues is our priority for the immediate future and, judging by the motions that have been put forward by the regional SAS committees, this will form a major part of the discussion at conference.
The theme for this year’s conference on 22 May is ‘empowering SAS doctors’. Could you expand this and tell us more about what you want to see this year?
A ‘Empowering SAS doctors’ felt like a fitting theme for the conference as it builds on the work we have been doing during the past few years to give SAS doctors a greater voice in the NHS and showcasing the crucial role they play in our health service.
It is a running theme throughout the motions, and there is a clear desire from our representatives to develop a policy agenda for next year that will embolden SAS doctors across the UK to come forward about the challenges they are experiencing.
We have two highly interesting speakers: BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul, who will be speaking on his vision for a collaborative NHS; and Roger Kline, the former director of Workforce Race Equality Standard at NHS England, who will be speaking on the cost of bullying and harassment to the NHS. I am looking forward to both speeches as they are bound to generate some interesting debates. Of course, I can’t forget about the pre-conference dinner which is always a great opportunity to bring SAS colleagues across the UK together for what is always a highly enjoyable evening.