Plans for the advancement of staff, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctors in Northern Ireland have received a welcome boost with the announcement of specialist posts tasked with developing the grade.
Transformation funding from Northern Ireland’s Department of Health will see the recruitment of SAS leads within each of the five health and social care trusts in the region. The posts will work to ensure that the training and development needs of SAS doctors are appropriately identified, and available resources are used effectively to meet these needs.
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust was the first to begin recruitment, advertising for a SAS lead this week. The other health trusts are expected to follow suit soon.
The announcement was made after years of lobbying by the BMA Northern Ireland and follows the recommendations of the organisation's Career Development Proposal.
Carole Cairns, Chair of the BMA Northern Ireland SAS Committee (NISASC) welcomed the announcement.
“We are delighted that key recommendations of our Career Development Proposal are becoming a reality,” she said.
“In recent years there has been little or no career-progression opportunities for SAS doctors in Northern Ireland, despite the significant clinical and leadership role they play in the country’s health service. This is in contrast to the rest of the UK where there has been clear infrastructure for SAS development.
“SAS doctors will play a vital role in delivering the aspirations of our department’s health and wellbeing 2026 strategy through leadership and developing innovative solutions. These posts will foster a greater understanding with stakeholders and with colleagues of the importance of SAS doctors in secondary care. It will also mean more professional development opportunities for this ever-growing group of senior trained staff.”