The new specialist grade for SAS 2021

Details and information about the new specialist grade which formed part of the contract reform 2021 for SAS doctors.

18 March 2021

A key element of the SAS contract reform is the introduction of a new grade, called the specialist grade. This will provide an opportunity for career progression for highly experienced specialty doctors. The introduction of this new grade will help to recruit, motivate and retain senior doctors and contribute to SAS grades being a positive and fulfilling career choice.

Stakeholders across the system have contributed to defining the scope of practice of the role, including the roles and responsibilities, how the role differs from existing medical roles and the benefits the new role will offer to doctors, employers and patients.

The creation of these roles will be driven by local employer need to meet service requirements and will be advertised for competitive entry through local recruitment processes. It is not a regrading process for existing specialty doctors.

A generic capabilities framework for the specialist grade has been developed in partnership between the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the British Medical Association and NHS Employers. It outlines the core capabilities and skills expected across all specialties for safe working practices at this senior level. The terms and conditions for the specialist grade state that doctors will need to evidence they meet these criteria in order to successfully enter the grade.

*Where the term ‘specialist’ is used in this web page, it is used to denote doctors and dentists employed on the specialist grade (England) 2021 contract.

Supporting documents

Generic capabilities framework (PDF)

This document outlines the capabilities that a doctor will need to evidence in order to enter the grade and will support employers to create individual person specifications, which will be tailored to the specific requirements of the role. As the overarching framework is generic in content, any specialty-specific, practical or surgical skills that are required will need to be defined in the person specification.

Template person specification (Word template)

Download this to help you develop a clear description of the requirements for an individual role.

Notes on person specification template (PDF)

This list contains illustrative examples of specialty-specific criteria and guidance for reference. It shows ways in which the template person specification may be amended or extended to be made suitable for different specialties.

Concordat between the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and NHS Employers on the appointment of specialist medical staff (PDF).

Specialist grade appointment guidance (Word).

This document provides additional guidance to support employers transitioning doctors from the associate specialist grade into the specialist grade and with the collation of evidence against the capabilities framework. It contains:

  • clarity on the process for associate specialists transitioning into the specialist grade and how employers can best manage this process
  • an easy-to-use template, along with accompanying guidance, on how doctors can evidence that they meet the criteria in the capabilities framework.