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Scotland Deanery

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Your Development

Guidance for New SAS Doctors and Dentists

Welcome to the SAS grade in Scotland! This page has been designed to provide important information and useful links for newly employed SAS doctors and dentists. If you have specific questions, or you wish to suggest other pieces of information to feature on this page, please contact us at SASDevelopment@nes.scot.nhs.uk.

You are joining approximately 1300 other Specialty Doctors and Dentists as well as Associate Specialists in Scotland. If you are completely new to SAS, hopefully this will give you some useful information. If you have moved from elsewhere to take up a post in Scotland, please be aware the there are some differences compared to the rest of the UK.



You have access to a SAS Education Adviser in your health board (see the bottom of this page for a list). Your EA is also a SAS doctor or dentist; do contact your EA when you start your post, as by joining their local mailing list you will be updated about SAS educational activities and opportunities. They can give you help and guidance as you start your new role. Additionally, the SAS Development programme is supported by Phil and Stacey who are the Programme Officers. Please contact them for help and guidance at SASDevelopment@nes.scot.nhs.uk!

You should also be allocated a senior clinician in your department who can give you guidance in your clinical work and who should be a point of local support for you.


SAS Development Programme Funding

The SAS Development Programme aims to direct national funding to those SAS doctors and dentists whose clinical teams are seeking to develop new or improved clinical services, or to enhance their role within the clinical team, and where funding is not otherwise provided by the employing Health Board. If approved, funding is available to support costs for training, salary backfill, or completion of training to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR). In addition, funding has enabled the creation of a national network of Education Advisers (who are themselves SAS doctors or dentists) to support local SAS doctors and dentists, and to guide them (and their employing Health Boards) to make best use of this funding opportunity.

For more information see our page on the SAS Development Fund application process.


SAS Development Programme Courses and Events

The SAS Development Programme continually offers a range of national training courses and regional educational events, as well as an annual national conference for Scottish SAS. Details of national events are viewable on our training calendar, while regional events are promoted by email through the relevant SAS Education Adviser (click here to find the Education Adviser for your health board).

All SAS Programme courses and events are free to attend and are typically certified for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points, awarded via attendance certificate. Unless otherwise stated, you should book your place on a course or event through the NES registration system, Portal. Please visit the Portal home page to register an account.

Our Portal events and courses are set to be browseable and bookable only for those users set to the SAS-specific account role; see the training calendar page for more details.


Other information:

SAS Contracts

Make sure to check that you are on the correct contract, with correct number of hours.

Please see our own Job Planning page for relevant links.

BMA guidance on SAS contracts in Scotland is also available, featuring a model contract, terms and conditions of service for Specialty Doctors, and a Frequently Asked Questions document. Please note that the Associate Specialist post is a “closed” grade, and it is not currently possible to be regraded to become an Associate Specialist.

Doctors should be aware that NHS basic indemnity for clinical negligence claims does not cover legal advice and support for any other processes (GMC, coroner or criminal), and are therefore advised to arrange their own additional Medical Protection cover with one of the Medical Defence Organisations.


Job Planning

One of your first tasks is to agree a job plan with your Clinical Lead or Clinical Director (CD); BMA advice on SAS job planning is available here. If, with time, it is clear that your plan is not working out, you may wish to ask for a job plan review earlier than the standard annual review. You should ensure that you get adequate SPA time in order to go through Appraisal and revalidation.

Contractually all SAS doctors are entitled to a minimum of 1 SPA. The balance between SPA time and other work will be determined locally and will be set out in your job plan.

Click here for full BMA information on SPA time.


Useful points in the terms and conditions:

Annual leave: Make sure you apply for annual leave with adequate notice; discuss with your Clinical Lead how it is applied locally. Most departments require 6 weeks' notice, but some require more, depending on rotas and other local issues. As a Specialty Doctor you are entitled to 5 weeks' annual leave for first two years, except where the immediate previous post had a 6 week entitlement, in which case 6 weeks applies. Annual leave allocation is 6 weeks in subsequent years. This is in addition to eight public holidays and two statutory holidays or days in lieu thereof. The two statutory days may, by local agreement, be converted to a period of annual leave.

Study leave: The recommended standard is leave with pay and expenses or time off in lieu with expenses within a maximum of 30 days (including off-duty days falling within the period of leave) in any period of three years for professional purposes within the United Kingdom. You need to apply to your Clinical Lead for this time off, giving adequate notice. Any grant of leave is subject to the need to maintain NHS services.


SAS Charter - Rights and Responsibilities

SAS Charter for Scotland has been developed jointly by the British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland, the Management Steering Group (MSG) including NHS Scotland employers and the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorate (SGHSCD). It sets out both the rights and responsibilities of SAS doctors and their employers, with a commitment to support and enable SAS doctors to realise their full clinical potential to deliver the best patient care.



Annual appraisal is a contractual obligation for all doctors employed by, or contracted with, an NHS Board. In NHS Scotland this is conducted through the Scottish Online Appraisal Resource (SOAR), whose website features contacts and guidance on the process. All doctors are asked to reflect and review the entirety of their practice (since their last appraisal meeting), provide the relevant supporting information and complete the appraisal forms which will shape the discussions with the Appraiser.

Everyone should contact their Health Board Appraisal Admin lead to ensure they are allocated an Appraiser. If you are not sure who the Appraisal Admin person is in your Health Board, please ask your Clinical Lead / Clinical Director. The appraisal system will enable you to be revalidated. SOAR FAQ on appraisal

You will need to undertake Multi-Source Feedback at least every 5 years, and ideally also if you are due to go through a threshold in the Specialty Doctor/Dentist contract. For more information on Multi-Source Feedback please see this NES webpage.

This document SAS Doctors - Information for Appraisers has been shared via the Territorial Health Board Appraisal leads, therefore we would anticipate that your Appraiser should already have access to it. However, you may wish to check that your Appraiser has seen it when scheduling your Appraisal meeting, and you also can refer to the document yourself.

Your SAS Education Adviser can offer support to discuss relevant PDP activities which may attract SAS Development funding.



Remember to record your CPD throughout the year – many Royal Colleges allow you to join (some as an associate member) and keep a CPD log. This makes Appraisal much easier!

SAS dentists who are registered with the GDC are required to complete 10 hours of verifiable CPD every 2 years and log activity yearly. Further information is available here: https://www.gdc-uk.org/professionals/cpd


CESR (Certification of Eligibility for Specialist Registration)

For information on CESR specifically, please see our CESR for SAS Grades page

Please note that CESR is not applicable to SAS dentists, who are not registered with the GMC.



Scotland Deanery page on careers

BMA Careers advice


Leadership Skills

NES's Faculty Development Alliance (FDA) team offers a two-part Leadership and Management Programme workshop (LaMP), and Scottish SAS wishing to attend can apply to the SAS Development Programme for reimbursement of the £150 attendance fee and reasonable travel costs; please email SASDevelopment@nes.scot.nhs.uk for more information.

Several free online resources are also available regarding development of leadership skills for senior clinicians:

NHS Leadership Academy

Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management

NHS HEE e-Learning for Healthcare: Leadership for Clinicians




The GMC are the regulator for doctors and they work to protect patient safety and support medical education and practice across the UK. They do this by working with doctors, employers, educators, patients and other key stakeholders in the UK's healthcare systems. Find out more about their work here.

Welcome to UK Practice is a free workshop designed to help doctors new to the UK, by offering practical guidance about ethical scenarios you may encounter, and providing the chance to connect with other doctors coming from abroad. You can book onto available courses here.

The GMC also have a decision making tool to help you know what to do if you have a concern about patient safety.


Your Wellbeing

Look after yourself and you will be better able to look after your patients. Doctors tend to underuse health services; the empathy we extend to others does not always tally with the care we give ourselves. There are many sources of support available for you. 

For work related issues, try and seek support from a member of your team if possible. Your SAS Education Adviser may be able to guide you.

Funding is in place so that Wellbeing Support Services, run by the BMA, are open to all doctors. They are confidential and free of charge. Call 0330 123 1245 and you will have the choice of speaking to a counsellor or taking details of a doctor who you can contact for peer support. The counselling service is staffed by professional telephone counsellors, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All counsellors are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and are bound by strict codes of confidentiality and ethical practice. Ongoing counselling is available.

The counsellors are there to help you deal with a variety of issues. By seeking constructive help you may identify ways of addressing the root causes of your concerns and develop strategies to reduce the impact of the consequences.

This page was last updated on: 09.09.2020 at 09.52