GMC CEO warns that ‘red tape’ restricts where North East Specialty and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors can practise.

Speaking at the Health Education England North East SAS conference, 17 March 2023, Charlie Massey said:

“Despite their growing presence and influence in the service, SAS doctors too often suffer from others’ outdated notions about what their careers should look like. Rather than valuing their skills, the focus and the narrative remains skewed towards consultants. Those dated ideas are holding SAS doctors back and patients are being denied their skills in the process.

“The stark reality is that while the composition of the medical workforce is changing, the rules and attitudes that govern it aren’t keeping pace. SAS doctors need more support, and more opportunities. And within the wider system, we need more creative thinking that will enable SAS doctors both to develop their skills and encourage them to pursue long careers in UK practice.

“All of us have a role to play to maximise the abilities and experience of this vital and growing group. There’s much to be done. But the prize – well supported doctors using their skills to meet modern healthcare needs – justifies the effort.”

SAS doctors are doctors who do hands-on work but are not in training to become a consultant or a GP. Many choose this route for work-life balance and for its focus on direct patient care, but are denied some wider opportunities, including being able to work in primary care.

They’re also highly skilled, with 83% having more than 10 years of clinical experience according to a 2019 survey. Charlie Massey said: ‘This is a dynamic and growing group of highly experienced doctors, one that is already making a massive contribution in the health service.’

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