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CESR for SAS Grades

At some stage in your SAS career, you might wish to consider applying for CESR (Certificate of Eligibility for the Specialist Register) through the GMC.

The first port of call should be the GMC website to download a copy of the Divider Pack and your Specialty Specific Guidelines for CESR (SSG) which will give you an indication of what equivalent experience you are required to evidence in your CESR application.


It would be helpful to access a copy of the relevant and up to date Curriculum document for your specialty area, as this will clearly detail the range and breadth of competencies you will be expected to achieve or provide evidence of equivalence for. However, do ensure you keep up to date with any curriculum changes as you gather your evidence, as you will need to ensure your CESR application contains all the essential requirements applicable at the time of your submission.

Your relevant specialty Royal College should be able to provide you with specialty specific Curriculum/CESR related advice and guidance. Many Royal Colleges have an appointed person/team who are involved in the CESR process. We also suggest contacting the relevant Training Programme Director (TPD) for your region and your specialty: these individuals usually support trainees but should be able to give you guidance regarding potential gaps in experience etc.


GMC-led CESR Workshops for SAS Doctors

The SAS Development Programme regularly offer a GMC-CESR workshop for SAS to learn about the application process and ask their own questions.

The next GMC workshop will take place on Friday 25th November 2022, 14:00-16:30. Jessica Betts, a member of the GMC's Specialist Applications Team will be joining us to deliver a presentation on the application process and to take individual questions in a live Q&A. This workshop is suitable whether you're interested in finding out what CESR would involve or already working towards an application. Click Here to Register  

The most recent workshop was held on Thursday 16th September 2021 and covered: 

  • What is CESR, and what are the eligibility requirements?
  • Preparing a CESR application to the GMC
  • The application process
  • The approval process
  • Why applications are unsuccessful
  • Q&A session with GMC Specialist Applications Team representative

Please see below a copy of the presentation used by the GMC at this workshop, and two information packs. This information is correct as of September 2021, unless stated otherwise – GMC requirements and procedures around CESR applications are subject to change.

GMC CESR Presentation Slides (last updated Sept 2021)

Applicant Pack A: Specialist Registration through the CESR Route (last updated Sept 2021)

Applicant Pack B: Presenting CESR Evidence - Sample Evidence (last updated Sept 2021)

GMC CESR workshop - Audio recording with presentation slides (from Sept 2021 workshop)

*Info is correct as of Sept 2021 but subject to change

The GMC have implemented some important changes to the CESR application process, primarily:

  • Evidence can now be filed online through the GMC website over a 12 month period, prior to submitting your application
  • In most cases, letters and documents submitted as evidence should be verified by GMC-provided pro-forma forms signed by a medical supervisor from your work/training location, rather than be stamped and signed on every page (check this page for full requirements for each type of evidence)

Click here to see the latest updates on the CESR application process, regarding changes completed in 2020.

Please email SASDevelopment@nes.scot.nhs.uk to enquire about and register interest in future CESR workshops. 


GMC Curriculum Review Schedule - Changes from August 2022

The GMC has recently published the curriculum review schedule on their website in order to inform CESR applicants when a curriculum change is expected. Anticipated changes may be expected in August 2022 for the following specialties. Please note, you must continually monitor for any further changes.

  • Aviation and space medicine
  • Public health medicine 
  • Ophthalmology
  • Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics 
  • Gastroenterology

 Other expected changes are highlighted for:

  • Occupational Medicine curriculum August 2022
  • Royal College of Radiologists Changes to FRCR Final 
  • Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health Changes to MRCPCH Clinical June 2022
  • Royal College of Anaesthetists Change to FRCA Final SOE Summer 2022
  • Pre-hospital emergency medicine August 2022
  • Surgical colleges have just released a recording of their webinar from Nov 2021 and published FAQs CESR-JCST (see below for more detail)


CESR for Surgical Specialties

The GMC as of 17 November 2020, has published the new surgical curricula that will be implemented for surgical training from August 2021. All CESR applicants will have a choice about whether you want to have your CESR application assessed against the new 2021 curriculum or the ‘current’ curriculum. Both versions of the CCT curriculum can be found on the GMC website.

It is very important that you refer to the Specialty Specific Guidance in your specialty. This is the GMC document that sets out how to provide the evidence for your application. There are versions for both curricula. If you are applying under the current curricula, you should also refer to the Certification Guidelines in your specialty. If you are applying under the 2021 curricula this information has been incorporated into the curriculum in section 5.4 Completion of training in your specialty.

The 2021 curriculum is outcome based unlike 2020 curriculum that is competency based. These outcomes are assessed against the fundamental capabilities required of consultants in the working week. These include the general skills which all doctors need to have (the GMC’s Generic Professional Capabilities (GPCs) as well as those needed to carry out all the specific day to day tasks undertaken by a consultant surgeon. JCST has called these Capabilities in Practice (CiPs). The new assessment tool to assess GPCs and CiPs is called Multiple Consultant Report (MCR).

JCST has released new guidance, FAQs, and a recording to help CESR applicants and can be reached via CESR-JCST


GMC Changes to the CESR combined programme policy

The GMC is making changes to their policy for the combined programme route to specialist and GP registration. This follows some changes that have been made to legislation as a result of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

From 1 January 2021, any doctor on a combined programme, whose application for entry to the specialist or GP register is approved by the GMC, will now be eligible for a CCT rather than a CESR/CEGPR. The requirement for doctors in training to meet minimum training times in their programmes for their specialty has now been removed from legislation, so there’s no longer a restriction to granting a CCT to doctors who have completed a combined programme.

Unfortunately, they are unable to grant all previous combined programme doctors with a CCT, as the granting of CCTs is subject to the legislation that was in place at the point the GMC granted entry to the specialist/GP register. Therefore, doctors who joined the GP or specialist register through the combined programme before 1 January 2021, who did not meet the minimum UK training time for their specialty at that time, will not be eligible to be granted a CCT retrospectively.

 However, they will continue to retrospectively grant CCTs to those who are eligible. This applies to:

  • Doctors who met the minimum training time for their specialty, or who trained in a specialty without a minimum training time
  • Doctors who participated in a combined programme and were issued with a CESR or CEGPR rather than a CCT since 1 January 2021.

The GMC is working to identify doctors who participated in a combined programme and were issued with a CESR/CEGPR since 1 January 2021 so that we can retrospectively award them with a CCT. As the legislation has now been amended, this change for all combined programme applicants for GP or Specialist registration will be introduced from 11 June 2021.

For more information please view the GMC guidance on combined programme applications and retrospective applications.


How the SAS Programme can help to support your CESR Application

If you've been unable to obtain specialty specific CESR advice from your Royal College, the SAS Programme will be able to refer you to a Training Programme Director in your specialty area, through its Deanery network.

Our network of SAS Education Advisers in each of the regional Health Boards have all received training on the CESR process from the GMC and will be able to signpost you to people who can advise you on your specialty requirements.

As a result of being unsuccessful in a previous CESR application or whilst you are preparing a CESR application for submission, it may be necessary for you to undertake a period of additional top-up training, in order to meet any gaps in the competencies required of the Curriculum you are following. SAS funding is limited, and is there to support all SAS across Scotland, so this funding is available to address specific gaps - not for a full training programme. We currently support funding for up to 6 months for this purpose.

The SAS Programme has, to date, already supported a number of SAS Doctors across Scotland in their quest to achieve CESR by providing current salary backfill funding so that they can receive the additional training they require, to further support their CESR application. Some of the applicants the SAS fund has supported have now had their CESR application approved.

In order to be considered for SAS funding for CESR purposes, you will have to apply to the SAS Development Fund providing full details.

SAS Development Fund Application Process


NHS Scotland CESR Peer Support Network on Microsoft Teams

The CESR Peer Support Network on MS Teams is a place to meet others from Health Boards across Scotland who are interested in applying for CESR or have started the process and would like some help and support from others going through the same process, or who have already achieved it. The Teams group is a place to meet, chat, share tips/resources/materials/challenges/solutions for all things CESR.  It is a chance to link up with those in your own and other specialties or Health Boards who may be going through the same process and may be able to support each other through your own experiences.  

We have over 100 members in the group including mentors who have already achieved CESR in their specialties and SAS Education Advisers from the regional Health Boards. If you would like more information about the group and how to register, please contact SASDevelopment@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Regular meetings with CESR Peer Support Mentors who have already achieved CESR are underway; the next sessions for 2022 will be posted here as soon as they are confirmed. 

  • Thursday 20th October 2022 17:00-18:00 Mr Ahmed Waqas, Senior Clinical Fellow (Colorectal Surgery), Guy's & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust will share his experience of achieving CESR in General Surgery. Click Here to Register  
  • Wednesday 22nd June 2022 - Dr Richard Akintayo, Locum Consultant, Rheumatology,      NHS Dumfries & Galloway on the challenges for overseas doctors when preparing for CESR. View Richard's slides here. 
  • Tuesday 24th May 2022 - Reflections from Dr Adam Livingston on his career progression from locum to Specialty Doctor to achievement of his Anaesthetic Consultant post via CESR. View Adam's slides here.
  • Wednesday 30th March 2022 - Dr Soosan Romel, Locum Consultant & Lead in Sexual Health, NHS Dumfries & Galloway: View Soosan's slides here

Recordings of these sessions are available to view on the CESR Peer Support Network on MS Teams - if you would like to join the CESR Peer Support Network on Teams, please contact: SASDevelopment@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Details of upcoming meetings of the CESR Peer Support Network will be posted here. 


E-Portfolio access by Specialty Information - updated for 2019

We strongly recommend that you keep a record of work done, this is best recorded utilising the same E-Portfolio access for SAS that trainees use. You should aim to ensure that new areas of learned competencies are signed off by a supervisor. This will make gathering evidence for CESR much easier.

You may also be interested in reviewing the August 2020 AoRMC report on ease of access to e-Portfolios by Royal College / Joint Training Board.

Further CESR related Support

CESR: How You Can Succeed

The Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh have made available 8 videos from SAS doctors in England offering their advice on the CESR process, following their own success in applying. These are viewable at this link after registering a RCPE account; registration is free and open to all.

Leadership Development Passport

The Leadership Development Passport has been developed to aid trainees in generating and recording their leadership experience.

The aim of the passport is to provide a framework within which doctors can add their experience and reflections. This will help demonstrate leadership development for job interviews and ARCPs, while also showing the wide range of options available to trainees who wish to develop their leadership skills.

You may also be interested in reviewing this August 2020 AoRMC report on access to Leadership training for SAS doctors and dentists.

GMC Contacts

The team of advisers at the GMC are extremely helpful and very knowledgeable in the CESR process, and are happy to take email-based enquiries from SAS Doctors. Please email equivalence@gmc-uk.org.

SAS Programme Contact

If you have any further questions with respect to the SAS CESR process and the SAS Development Fund, please email SASDevelopment@nes.scot.nhs.uk.

This page was last updated on: 19.10.2022 at 16.38