SAS contract negotiations

Find out about the negotiations the BMA has been involved in about the SAS contract and keep up to date with any changes or progression.

Location: Wales England Northern Ireland
Audience: SAS doctors
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
Contract and pen article illustration

Why the BMA has entered into negotiations

The aim of the negotiations is to reform the current specialty doctor contract and create a new senior grade to replace the closed Associate Specialist grade that would come in effect in April 2021.

There will be an additional 1% of the total SAS pay bill invested to support contract reform, as set out in the last NHS pay circular in both England and Wales.

Scotland will not be part of these negotiations. BMA Scotland are currently in separate discussions with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland employers on potential SAS contract negotiations.

What the BMA wants from these negotiations

  • Increases to basic pay.
  • A simplified pay scale that is better suited to a career average pension scheme.
  • Additional contractual safeguards to improve work/life balance, particularly for those working onerous on-call patterns.
  • A clear contractual framework that allows for development and progression over the course of a doctor's career.
  • Improved training flexibility and opportunities for development such as leadership roles.
  • Appropriate variations to any agreed contracts to ensure their suitability for the Welsh NHS if we feel that it is necessary. 

What NHSE, DHSC, DoHNI and Welsh Government want from these negotiations

  • To raise the profile and status of SAS roles to attract and retain SAS doctors.
  • To create contracts that are attractive for employers to adopt and offer doctors fulfilling careers with opportunity for progression.
  • Modernise contracts that facilitate the provision of high-quality care.
  • Offer an additional pathway for career in medicine which provides and encourages development for those in SAS roles.
  • To reduce obstacles to the appropriate deployment of services to meet the needs of patients every day of the week.


Current status of negotiations

In February 2020, the BMA entered into negotiations with NHSE (NHS Employers), DHSC (the Department of Health and Social Care) and the Welsh Government on behalf of SAS doctors in England and Wales.

The Department of Health for Northern Ireland announced in July 2020 that they will be formally joining the negotiations. As such the contract reform will now apply to SAS doctors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday 8 July 2020 a set of Heads of Terms were jointly agreed with NHS Employers. The Heads of Terms set out the scope of items that will be discussed over the course of the negotiations. 

Progress so far

Since commencing negotiations in February, we have discussed a range of topics including, but not limited to:

  • the pay envelope available for contract reform
  • job planning and SPA (Supporting Professional Activities) time
  • arrangements for annual leave and the number of leave days
  • a simplified pay scale, considering the merits of different models proposed
  • elements of the SAS charter that could be contractualised.


What happens next?

Our intention is to finalise a deal by the end of 2020 and share this with members for their views.

If the deal is acceptable to members the jointly agreed revised terms and conditions will come into effect in April 2021.