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: UK
Audience: SAS doctors
Updated: Thursday 16 September 2021
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Transferring to the 2021 contracts

The window of opportunity to express interest in transferring to the new SAS contracts closes on 30 September 2021 in England and Wales, and on 31 October 2021 in Northern Ireland. 


If you are an eligible SAS doctor, your employer should have already written to you asking for your expression of interest.


We have set out the process for expressing your interest as well as highlighting the impact of the Government’s pay award, which you will need to carefully consider before making your decision.

New contracts package in Wales, England and Northern Ireland

The BMA has been engaged in contract negotiations with NHS Employer organisations and departments of health and social care of the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

In December 2020, negotiations concluded on two contracts – a new Specialty Doctor contract and a Specialist grade contract – for SAS doctors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These were put to a referendum of members in each of the three nations. Members in all three nations voted for the introduction of the new contracts.

The benefits of the package

  • Pay deal of 3% investment per year over three years to support contract reform.

  • New senior SAS grade to create a clear career framework and give senior doctors the recognition they deserve.

  • Individual choice for SAS doctors currently on national contracts of whether to move to the new contracts.

  • New safeguards to protect SAS doctors and their work-life balance.

  • Flatter pay scale to better reward SAS doctors throughout their careers and help reduce the gender pay gap.

  • Increased on-call supplements in line with consultants.

  • Guidance for a new SAS advocate role to promote and support SAS doctors’ health and wellbeing.

  • Enhanced pay and provisions for shared parental leave and child bereavement leave.

  • An additional day of annual leave after seven years in the grade in England.
  • Non-recurrent ringfenced funding dedicated to SAS improvement and development available at trust level in England, and at national level in Wales.

The negatives of the contract offer

Any contract negotiation involves trade-offs, but we think there are only three:

  • The extension of plain time to 7am–9pm on weekdays (currently 7am–7pm on weekdays). This would mean work is paid at standard rates until 9pm. This doesn’t mean a standard day will become longer, but it will be less expensive for employers to schedule work at that time.

  • Changes to the redundancy arrangements in England to bring them in line with the Agenda for Change terms and conditions of service.
  • There is no equivalent right to decline elective work in premium time to the one currently in the associate specialist contract. However, if an AS doctor decides this provision is important to them, they can choose to stay on their existing contract.

Read our guidance on the new specialist grade


National contract variations

There are some differences between the contract packages for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The framework agreements lay out the pay scales for each year of the deal.

Our pay explainers set out the full details of how pay uplifts are applied to your pay journey during the deal period, taking into account changes to the pay scale and incremental progression. 



Northern Ireland

Read the full national contracts

If you have any further queries about the proposed contracts, please contact us.


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Moving onto the 2021 SAS contract?


Ensure you are recording your work activities correctly on our job planning tool Dr Diary.

Simply confirm your new contract in the employer selection.

Update your contract in Dr Diary

Contract negotiations in Scotland

Following the Scottish Government decision to pursue a Scottish specific reform of the Speciality Doctor grade, the new SAS contract developments in Wales, England and Northern Ireland are not applicable to Scotland. 

Negotiations on a new SAS contract for Scotland have now started. Early discussions have been constructive and productive and there is an agreed timetable for meetings.