Rebecca Barnard, one of our Survey Project Officers, is part of the team working on the new survey for Speciality and Associate Specialist (SAS) and Locally Employed Doctors (LED) launching in spring 2019. She’s spent the past few months speaking to a number of doctors to understand the unique issues they face and in this blog, she explains the importance of this work and how you can help.

‘Staff grade’, ‘trust grade’, ‘associate specialist’, ‘fellow’ –  doctors working outside of training and consultant posts are covered by an extensive range of titles and contracts. This is reflected in their diverse specialities, skills and experience.

However, despite making up over a sixth of UK doctors, we understand less about their experiences compared to other parts of the medical workforce. With our new survey specifically for Speciality and Associate Specialist (SAS) and Locally Employed Doctors (LED) we’re striving to change this.

What we’ve heard so far

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to more than 50 SAS doctors across the UK about their work and training experiences. Through focus groups and interviews, I’ve met with doctors at all stages of their careers, and from all backgrounds.

A message I heard loud and clear was that many don’t feel listened to; they feel marginalised, undervalued and overlooked and want the opportunity to tell us about the issues that affect them. The doctors I spoke to had concerns around three key themes: support, recognition and development.

Many doctors spoke about the positive aspects of working as a SAS doctor, including the flexibility, work life balance and stability it provides. But some told me they feel trapped in their jobs, unable to advance any further in their careers. Others described difficulties in accessing training, and a lack of mechanisms for recognising their skills and experience. All were frustrated that there isn’t currently an avenue for sharing these concerns with us and others in a position to make a difference.

Our new survey

This spring, we’re running a survey for all SAS doctors and LEDs across the UK.

We’ll be asking questions on a range of topics, including:

  • workplace culture
  • career development and access to training, including
    • Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR)
    • Certificate of Eligibility for GP Registration (CEGPR)
  • induction experiences
  • workload.

We want to encourage all 45,000 plus doctors out there who are working in these roles to take part.

What they tell us will not only improve our understanding of doctors working outside of training, but also give us a robust and rich source of data that will help us, and others, to give them the support they need.

Once labelled ‘the lost tribe’ of the NHS – SAS doctors and LEDs have come a long way towards being acknowledged for the invaluable contribution they make to the medical workforce and patient care. There’s still more to do, but we hope our survey will be a sizeable step forward in supporting these doctors to find their voice.

Are you a SAS or Locally Employed Doctor? If so, look out for your invitation to take part in the survey in spring 2019.

For more information contact our survey team at