SAS doctors acting up

This guidance addresses the situation where a SAS grade doctor is asked to cover for a senior colleague for a limited period only and is acting up into a senior role.

Location: UK
Audience: SAS doctors
Updated: Wednesday 1 June 2022
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If you are a SAS doctor acting up into a senior role it should be recognised by change of job title and remuneration. It’s also important to know what level of support you will have, how long you will be acting up for and what will happen when you return to your substantive position.


Things to consider before acting up

As a SAS doctor you should expect to take on additional responsibility throughout your career and will need to demonstrate this in order to pass through pay thresholds.

Many SAS doctors already work on consultant rotas or provide cover for more senior colleagues. The specialty doctor grade replaces both the staff grade and the pre-2008 associate specialist grade, which is why there is less clarity as to what level of practice a specialty doctor at the top of the scale would be expected to provide.


Changing your job title

If you are acting up, you should take up the title of the role you are fulfilling. By taking this title you are gaining seniority and a level of clearance and recognition you need to fulfil the full range of duties and responsibilities the role requires.

If it is not a long term or more substantive appointment it is appropriate to be titled as ‘acting’ associate specialist, for example.


Remuneration when acting up

If you are acting up as an associate specialist or consultant, you should receive an acting up allowance that would bring your rate of pay up to the rate of pay they would receive if it were a substantive position.

The rate of allowance should be determined in accordance with the national TCS (terms and conditions of service). You should also be entitled to other benefits under those terms and conditions including, for example, a travelling allowance and additional SPA (supporting additional activities) time.


Returning to your substantive post

When the period of acting up comes to an end, you are entitled to return to your previous post and the role.

The duration of acting up should contribute toward your progression through the pay scale. It should be also deemed as continuous service in your substantive position when determining entitlement to employment benefits, such as maternity/paternity, parental and sick leave.

If you are asked to act up for more than six months continually, you should approach your clinical director about the possibility of being appointed as a locum for a period of a year or having the role advertised as a substantive position.


Supervision arrangements and levels of responsibility

You should receive the level of supervision comparable to your skills and experience and should not be coerced to undertake work that you consider outside of your capabilities.


Opportunities for career development

Acting up is encouraged as a means of career development. It is an opportunity for you to gain experience in a more senior role and develop your skills set.

The experience gained would support your progression through the thresholds, as well as applications for more senior posts and specialist registration via CESR (certificate of eligibility for specialist registration).

If you think you have already been working at the level of the specialist grade, read our guidance on making a case for being appointed to a specialist post


Job planning

You should carefully consider all the potential implications of either accepting or refusing a request to act up.

Discussions concerning acting up should be held at job plan reviews or meetings and any changes to job plans should be made by mutual agreement.

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