New Scottish SAS contracts

Learn more about the new contract offer for SAS doctors in Scotland.

Location: Scotland
Audience: SAS doctors
Updated: Friday 3 May 2024
Contract and pen article illustration

Important update – deadline to conclude job planning extended to 31 July

The deadline for job planning and offers for the new SAS contracts is set at 31 May.  Some Boards are struggling to achieve this deadline and as a result  MSG (management steering group, NHS Scotland employers) have issued an instruction to Boards this week that the deadline can be extended to 31 July.

Schedule 24 Para 12 of the new Specialty Doctor contract already allows for extension in the case of absence due to, for example caring or sick leave.  It also establishes the principle of fair and equal treatment with no detriment suffered as a result.  This principle can be extended into cases where there has been a delay in concluding the job planning/job offer process where the Board has been unable to meet the original deadline. 

In line with the above principle it will be open to NHS Boards to give more than six months back dating where there has been a delay in concluding the job planning process attributable to the Board, rather than the individual doctor, as long as the backdating period commences no earlier than 1st October 2022.  Where any delay is attributable to inaction on the part of an individual doctor the maximum backdating period will remain at six months, regardless of the date the job planning/offer process concludes.

As set out in the agreed terms and conditions, backdating is not available to doctors who did not express interest by 6 January 2023.  

For example, where the doctor has expressed an interest by 6 Jan 2023, but job planning is not concluded until 30 June  and the delay in concluding is attributable to pressures of work in the employing Board, then the doctor would be entitled to backdating to 1 Dec 2022 (6 months - as if concluded by 31 May) PLUS one additional month (so effectively 1 Nov) to account for the delay.  If delayed until 31 July then it would 2 additional months (so effectively to 1 Oct). 

If you need assistance or further advice then please contact us.

About the new contract

For the past year, BMA Scotland has been negotiating with the Management Steering Group (MSG) on new contracts for SAS doctors in Scotland. MSG is the body responsible for negotiating terms and conditions of service on behalf of the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland employers.

These negotiations have now concluded with MSG presenting a ‘full and final’ offer on a contract package which comprises a revised Specialty Doctor (2022) contract and the introduction of a new Specialist (2022) grade.

The BMA’s Scottish SAS Committee (SSASC) agreed to put this package to a referendum of SAS members in Scotland. The referendum ran from 31 October to 18 November and 93% voted in favour. The SSASC met and endorsed the decision of members

Set out below is a summary of the key points of MSG’s offer including the full and final versions of the Terms and Conditions of Service for both grades.


How we got here

SSASC has been lobbying MSG for a number of years on the need for the re-introduction of a higher SAS grade following the closure of the Associate Specialist grade back in 2008. We have also repeatedly highlighted to MSG the impact of low pay and slow pay progression on SAS recruitment and retention.

When negotiations on new SAS contracts began elsewhere in the UK, we agreed with the Scottish Government’s decision that Scotland would not take part and that we would instead seek a distinctive Scottish solution. Unfortunately, a mandate from the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Social Care for MSG to enter Scottish-level negotiations was subsequently inevitably delayed first by the Scottish Government’s focus on the COVID pandemic response and then by the Scottish Parliament elections. Negotiations finally began in August last year.

Since then, the SSASC negotiating team has been engaged in intensive negotiations with MSG, which have now resulted in the “full and final” offer that SSASC has agreed to put to a referendum of BMA members.

In reaching this outcome, SSASC has sought to both build upon the successes of the new contracts agreed elsewhere in the UK, such as the introduction of the new Specialist grade, and also to improve on the offer in those nations, particularly around basic pay and out-of-hours working, to recognise the specific Scottish healthcare landscape and the challenges it poses. As a result, while there are some similarities between MSG’s contract offer in Scotland and the new contracts now in force elsewhere in the UK, there are also some significant differences.


What happens next

SSASC will work with MSG to ensure the contracts are implemented as soon as possible. This will involve NHS Boards writing to their SAS doctors to invite individual expressions of interest in transferring to the new Specialty Doctor (2022) contract or, for current Associate Specialists only, to transfer to the Specialist contract. There would be no requirement to move across to the new contract, and you would be free to remain on your current contract, although in order to secure the maximum 6 months of backpay offered under the transfer arrangements, you would need to have expressed an interest in transferring on or before 6 January 2023. A period of job planning would then follow which would result in a formal offer of transfer to the new contract being issued. You may then accept this and move across to the new contract, or else reject it and remain on your existing contract. It will remain open to existing doctors to transfer to the new contract at a later time, but no backpay will apply if this is the case.

Pay scales for the proposed new contracts

The 2022/23 pay scales for the offer are set out below. Doctors will normally be expected to spend 3 years on each pay point and have met the relevant pay progression criteria before moving to the next pay point.

Scale point (current contract) Pay point (proposed new contract) 2022/23 proposed new SD contract 2022/23 current SD contract
0 1 £54,903 £45,193
1 £54,903 £49,057
2 £54,903 £54,080
3 2 £65,497 £56,772
4 £65,497 £60,651
5 £65,497 £64,516
6 3 £69,507 £64,516
7 £69,507 £68,466
8 £69,507 £68,466
9 4 £77,532 £72,418
10 £77,532 £72,418
11 £77,532 £76,370
12 5 £85,554 £76,370
13 £85,554 £76,370
14 £85,554 £80,321
15 £85,554 £80,321
16 £85,554 £80,321
17 £85,554 £84,272
Scale point Pay point 2022/23 specialist grade
0 1 £83,130
1 £83,130
2 £83,130
3 2 £88,740
4 £88,740
5 £88,740
6 3 £94,350

What is the eligibility criteria for specialist doctors?

A doctor appointed to this grade:

  • shall have full registration and a Licence to Practice with the General Medical Council; and
  • shall have completed a minimum of 10 years' medical work (either continuous period or in aggregate) since obtaining a primary medical qualification of which a minimum of six years should have been in a relevant specialty in the Specialty Doctor and/or closed SAS grades. Equivalent year's experience in a relevant speciality from other medical grades including from overseas will also be accepted;
  • shall meet the criteria set out in the Specialist grade generic capabilities framework.

See terms and conditions of service specialist doctor in Scotland