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Staff Grade and Associate Specialist Doctors

Wessex Deanery and You

Wessex Deanery is committed to the professional development of SAS Doctors across the region.

Doctors in SAS grades up until a few years ago had no formal relationship with their deanery.  Many doctors who have long since left formal training programmes, or trained abroad may have only the remotest idea of the role of the Deanery.  Traditionally the principal role of the Deanery was in respect to selecting trainees, maintaining and assessing the quality of both trainees and training programmes.  This function remains, but there is now a recognition of, and responsibility towards, the educational development needs of a range of medical and non-medical personnel.

Wessex Deanery was the first UK deanery to appoint an Associate Dean for SAS Doctors.  Dr John Stubbing held this post for approximately three years prior to December 2009 when Dr Roger Palmer took over.

Dr Stubbing championed the importance of SAS Doctors achieving effective job planning, appraisal and having available adequate time for continuing professional development.

The new SAS Doctor Contract 2008 included a recurring sum of money for English SAS doctors.  It was negotiated with the BMA, that these funds were intended for professional skills development (i.e. non-clinical training).  This was in recognition of two things:

a)     The new contract laid the expectation that SAS Doctors’ careers would not stand still, but evidence an increasing range of skills in order to progress through the two thresholds.

b)     While SAS Doctors were generally clinically able, and tended to keep up to date in their discipline, their full potential to be trained to take on additional roles was often unrecognised.

Since 2008 the deaneries have had the responsibility, on behalf of the Department of Health and Strategic Health Authorities, to allocate the SAS funds to the Trusts.  While the Deanery monitors and gives guidance, it is the responsibility of the Trusts to direct SAS Doctors towards appropriate development activities and to make the necessary funds and time available for them to do so.  Our database suggests that there are approximately 570 SAS Doctors in Wessex.  The total funds distributed amounts to approximately £350,000 with approximately £20,000 retained centrally to fund regional courses and other activities.

What value does the Deanery add?

1.     The Deanery pays the salary, administrative and IT support of the Associate Dean.  This does not come out of SAS development funds.

2.     Providing free hosting and support to Wessex SAS Doctor Extranet.

3.     Disburses SAS training money to Trusts in a manner that is transparent and accountable.

4.     Provides a forum via CoPMED for Associate Deans to learn and share ideas.

5.     Supports the appointment, payment and appraisal of the SAS Tutors within individual Trusts.

6.     Has developed a strong network of Tutors, who are able to work together to produce cost efficiencies when purchasing from private training providers.

7.     Organise regional events on topical issues of broad interest to SAS Doctors.

8.     Provide career support to SAS Doctors including Article 14/CESR applicants.

9.     To champion and make available coaching.

10.  Maintain a database of SAS Doctors to assist the fair allocation of funds and for direct emailing of information.

All funds received by the Deanery for SAS Doctor Development go towards this purpose.  The Deanery demonstrates its commitment to SAS Doctors by sharing, without direct cost to the SAS Doctors, a range of services and resources.

Where can I find out more?

If you are an SAS Doctor, or a NHS employee with a role supporting SAS Doctors, you are welcome to register with our Extranet.

Every Trust within Wessex has a dedicated SAS Tutor.  All of these individuals are SAS Doctors themselves, and they are generally paid 1 PA to carry out their role.  Each has knowledge of the opportunities open to SAS Doctors, and can provide you with information as to the funds received by your Trust, and of local training events.  If you are unsure of the name of your Tutor please email

How are SAS funds allocated?

The Deanery is motivated to ensure equality of resource allocation and access to professional skills training.  Each Trust is allocated a sum of money based on the number of SAS Doctors employed.  In recognition that the training needs of all doctors, whether part time or full time, are broadly similar, the funds are allocated on a per capita basis.  This amounts to approximately £600 per doctor per year.  The money is disbursed to the Trusts as early as possible in the new financial year.  As with every other budget within the NHS, the precise funding year on year is impossible to guarantee.

Trusts rather than individual doctors receive the funds, and it is the Trusts via the Tutor and Medical Director who are responsible to ensure that this money is spent on appropriate activity.  It is to be emphasised that the additional SAS Development Funds are for professional and not clinical skills training, of which Trusts should be able to provide SAS Doctors the financial means for their ongoing clinical training.

Nationally there has been difficulty ensuring that doctors are aware of, and are able to make use of these funds in a timely fashion.  This reflects a number of factors that have traditionally served to maintain SAS Doctors in relatively unchanging, highly clinically focussed roles.  Whether it is resistance on the part of SAS Doctors to see a need to develop leadership or management skills, or an organisation so under pressure that it struggles to think of ways to creatively and effectively use SAS Doctors, the Deanery has a role to guide and to promote.  At Wessex we have set expectations that in receiving the SAS Development Funds, Trusts have a responsibility to ensure that the SAS Doctors really are getting involved in training.  It is our belief that there is much untapped potential amongst SAS Doctors though there is no simple prescription. 

The Deanery is committed to long-term collaboration with SAS Doctors and Trusts at this time of great change within the NHS and medical roles in particular.  For any Wessex SAS Doctor finding their professional circumstances particularly challenging, or perhaps seeing an opportunity they would like to explore, I wholeheartedly recommend they access skilled, professional coaching.  Details of this free service are available on the Extranet.

  • 510 – approximate number of SAS Doctors in Wessex.
  • £390,000 – annual budget for SAS professional skills training.
  • A SAS tutor in every Trust responsible for training.
  • An extranet for SAS doctors.
  • Access to numerous Courses Centre events and courses.
  • Free access to skilled 1:1 coaching.
  • SAS Associate Dean to promote your access to training.


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