Referendum Opens on New SAS Doctor Contract

Priscilla Lynch 

February 26, 2021

Staff, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctors will be able to have their say on a contract deal which will see the introduction of a new specialty doctor contract and a specialist grade contract.

The new contracts are the result of extensive negotiations between the British Medical Association (BMA), NHS Employer organisations and the departments of health and social care of the UK, Welsh and Northern Irish governments, and NHS England and NHS Improvement. They will now be put to the vote in a referendum open to all SAS grade BMA members.

Among the terms of the new contracts are a commitment to clearer career frameworks and greater recognition, new safeguards to protect work-life balance and enhanced pay and provisions for shared parental leave and child bereavement leave.

The introduction of a new specialist grade will allow specialty doctors the opportunity for greater career progression and recognition, said the BMA.

BMA SASC co-chair Rajesh Kumar said: “We have secured not only substantial improvements to salary rates but have also succeeded in bringing in a series of important safeguards around working conditions."

While negotiations for the contract offers were concluded in December and put to local SAS committees, the process has been slightly delayed in Northern Ireland while the BMA waits for the terms of the contract to be approved by the country’s employers, likely in the coming days.

The referendum will close on Monday, 1 March in Wales, and on Monday, 15 March in England.

Should the new contracts be endorsed, the decision to change the contract or remain on current terms would be left to the discretion of individual SAS doctors.

The new contracts will not apply to SAS doctors in Scotland, but the BMA is continuing engagement with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland employers over planned negotiations for a reform of the specialty doctor grade.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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