Plans for the advancement of staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors in Northern Ireland have received a welcome boost with the announcement of specialist posts tasked with developing the grade.
Transformation funding from Northern Ireland’s Department of Health will see the recruitment of SAS leads within each of the five health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland.
The posts will work to ensure that ‘the training and development needs of SAS doctors are appropriately identified, and available resources are used effectively to meet these needs’.
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust was the first to begin recruitment, advertising for an SAS lead this week. The other health trusts are expected to follow suit soon.
The announcement was made after years of lobbying by the BMA Northern Ireland staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors committee and follows the recommendations of NISASC’s ‘Career Development Proposal’.
NISASC chair Carole Cairns welcomed the announcement.
'We are delighted that key recommendations of our Career Development Proposal are becoming a reality,' she said.
'In recent years there has been little or no career-progression opportunities for SAS doctors in Northern Ireland despite the significant clinical and leadership role they play in the country’s health service. This is in contrast to the rest of the UK where there has been clear infrastructure for SAS development.
'SAS doctors will play a vital role in delivering the aspirations of our department’s health and wellbeing 2026 strategy through leadership and developing innovative solutions. These posts will foster a greater understanding with stakeholders and with colleagues of the importance of SAS doctors in secondary care. It will also mean more professional development opportunities for this ever-growing group of senior trained staff.'
The NISASC Career Development Proposal was published last year, the proposal set out four 'asks' of the DoH for the advancement of the SAS grade, including:
- SAS lead doctors in all health trusts responsible for nurturing the grade
- Allocation of resources for SAS development
- Appointment of an associate postgraduate SAS dean
- The reopening of the associate specialist grade.
Find out more about the SAS doctor contract in Northern Ireland
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