SAS contract reform 2021

Information on the negotiations to revise the specialty doctor grade and introduce a new senior SAS grade.

10 March 2021

NHS Employers has been working with the BMA and the DHSC to formally negotiate a revised specialty doctor grade and introduce a new specialist grade. Find out about the key parts to the reform and listen to some webinars which cover details of the proposed agreement and the new grade.

In January 2021, an agreement was reached which covers a three-year agreement from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2024 for a reformed specialty doctor contract and a new specialist contract. In March, the British Medical Association (BMA) members voted in favour of the new contracts and it has now been approved by government.

The new contracts will apply to new staff to the SAS grades from 1 April 2021 and to SAS doctors being employed on new contracts from that date forwards. Current SAS doctors employed on national terms and conditions of service will be given the option to transfer to the equivalent revised terms and conditions or remain on current terms and conditions.

Contracts for 2021

*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

Key parts of reform include:

  • The introduction of a new grade named the specialist grade, which will provide an opportunity for progression for highly experienced specialty doctors. The introduction of the role will help to recruit, motivate and retain senior doctors and contribute to SAS grades being a positive and fulfilling career choice. 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.
  • A reformed specialty doctor pay structure to move from an 11 point pay scale to a 5 point pay scale. The new pay structure will enable SAS doctors to access the top of the pay scale more quickly than the current system, increasing the career average earnings.
  • A new pay progression system that will link progression to the development of skills, competencies and experience through the processes of job planning, appraisal and mandatory training. Pay progression will no longer be automatic and will only be achieved where the required standards have been met.
  • A number of safeguards and additional provisions to support the health and wellbeing of SAS doctors.
  • A number of changes to modernise the terms and conditions of service to make sure that they are fit for purpose under a changing NHS to support the demands of patient care and to ensure services can be delivered.

The framework agreement sets out both the changes to pay structures and the terms and conditions of service that the 2021 specialty doctor and specialist contract will adopt that employers, BMA and the DHSC are agreeing to implement over the period of the agreement and going forward.

SAS contract reform 2021 webinar

On Tuesday 23 March we held a webinar to talk employers through a high-level summary of the proposed agreement between NHS Employers and the BMA for SAS doctors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The webinar covered:

  • a high-level summary of the agreement
  • timeline for implementation
  • next steps that employers need to take to prepare for the implementation of the new contracts
  • Q&A session.

View the webinar recording below and download the slides.

Specialist grade webinar

On Tuesday 2 March, we held a webinar to talk employers through the new Specialist grade that has been introduced as part of the proposed agreement for SAS contract reform. The webinar covered:

  • generic responsibilities of a doctor in the grade
  • entry criteria
  • how to appoint to the role
  • why employers should consider creating roles in their own organisation
  • Q&A session.

View the webinar recording below and download the slides.