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Portfolio Pathway for SAS Grades (formerly CESR)

Important update - as of 30th November 2023, the GMC has changed the existing CESR process to the new Portfolio pathway to specialist registration.

We will continue to update this page as changes are confirmed - in the meantime, please refer to the GMC webpages outlining the changes.

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

The first port of call should be the GMC website to download a copy of your Specialty Specific Guidance which will give you an indication of what equivalent experience you are required to evidence in your CESR application. Please note that all Specialty Specific Guidance documents have been updated for the Portfolio pathway as of 30th November 2023.


You need 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 Portfolio 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/Portfolio-related advice and guidance. Many Royal Colleges have an appointed person/team who are involved in the Portfolio 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/Portfolio Pathway Workshops for SAS Doctors

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

The most recent workshop on Specialist Registration was held on Friday 26th April 2024, and covered:

  • The changes from the CESR process to the new Portfolio pathway
  • The application process
  • The approval process
  • Why applications are unsuccessful
  • Q&A session with GMC Specialist Applications Team representative

We plan to offer the next workshop in Autumn 2024 and will provide details here when available.

Please see below a recording of the presentation by the GMC at the last workshop of April 2024:

GMC CESR/Portfolio workshop - Audio recording with presentation slides* (from Apr 2024 workshop)

Applicant information pack*

*Info is correct as of Apr 2024 but subject to change

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

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

  • Evidence can be filed online through the GMC Online account A doctor’s guide to GMC Online - GMC (gmc-uk.org) over a 12 month period, prior to submitting your application (you only pay the application fee when you submit 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)
  • Changes to curricula – see below

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

Portfolio Pathway for Physician training curricula

The current curricula are outcomes-based, assessed against the fundamental capabilities required of consultants in the working week. These are known as ‘Capabilities in Practice’ or ‘CiPs’.

Internal Medicine Training Stage 1 now forms the first three years of post-foundation training. 12 months of further Internal Medicine (Stage 2) will be integrated with specialty training in a dual programme for the main specialties supporting acute medical care. See also Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration | JRCPTB

Portfolio Pathway for Surgical Specialties

The current curriculum is outcome-based, unlike the 2020 curriculum which was 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. The tool to assess GPCs and CiPs is called the Multiple Consultant Report (MCR).

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

Apply for registration and/or licensing with us - GMC (gmc-uk.org)

Portfolio Pathway application - GMC (gmc-uk.org)



How the SAS Programme can help to support your Portfolio Pathway Application

If you've been unable to obtain specialty-specific Portfolio Pathway 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/Portfolio Pathway application or whilst you are preparing a Portfolio Pathway 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 (the predecessor to the Portfolio Pathway) 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. We can also potentially support some costs towards essential training courses required for your Portfolio Pathway application.

In order to be considered for SAS funding for Portfolio Pathway purposes, you will have to apply to the SAS Development Fund, providing full details, and applying well in advance of any proposed training or secondment.

SAS Development Fund Application Process

NHS Scotland CESR/Portfolio Pathway Peer Support Network on Microsoft Teams

The CESR/Portfolio Pathway Peer Support Network on MS Teams is a place to meet others from Health Boards across Scotland who are interested in applying for the Portfolio Pathway 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 Portfolio Pathway. 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 120 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 Peer Support Mentors who have already achieved CESR are underway; the next sessions for 2024 will be posted here as soon as they are confirmed. Please note that the below sessions reference CESR curricula at the time of the speaker's application.

  • Thursday 9th November 2023 - Megan Hume, GIM Locum Consultant (Borders) shared her experience of achieving CESR in General Internal Medicine.
  • Wednesday 25th January 2023 - Jill McKane, Community Palliative Care Consultant (Ayrshire) and Dr Leza Quate, Locum Consultant in Palliative Medicine (Greater Glasgow and Clyde) shared their experiences and tips to achieving CESR in Palliative Care. 
  • Thursday 20th October 2022  Mr Ahmed Waqas, Senior Clinical Fellow (Colorectal Surgery), Guy's & St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust shared his experience of achieving CESR in General Surgery. View the recording of the session here.
  • 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 Portfolio Pathway/CESR Peer Support Network:

New date coming soon.


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.

This August 2020 AoMRC document summarises e-Portfolios access by Royal College / Joint Training Board.

Further Portfolio Pathway-related Support

CESR: How You Can Succeed

The Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh 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 Portfolio application process, and are happy to take email-based enquiries from SAS doctors. Please email portfolio@gmc-uk.org.

SAS Programme Contact

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

This page was last updated on: 14.05.2024 at 15.25