SAS doctors must seek to empower themselves to meet the challenges facing patients and the NHS, this year’s SASC conference has heard.
BMA staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors committee chair Amit Kochhar said that SAS doctors had to seize upon the increasing recognition being afforded to the grade by bodies such as the Doctors and Dentists Review Body.
He said that changes to the NHS landscape such as ACOs (accountable care organisations), and threats to the workforce posed by Brexit, meant that SAS doctors were likely to play a vital role in helping the health service adapt to these challenges.
He said: ‘SAS doctors, like every other part of the NHS, face unprecedented pressures and demands. We contend with ever-diminishing sources of funding and support, and have to work in an increasingly unforgiving and sometimes hostile and regulatory environment.
‘Yet we have the ability, and the growing level of recognition, needed to meet these pressures and challenges head on.
‘With this year’s conference set to be the last before the UK exits the EU, the issue of Brexit is a significant one for the NHS [and] if the staffing crisis is exacerbated, SAS doctors will be called upon to increasingly take on even more of the workload.
‘[Furthermore] SAS doctors, with the unique levels of experience that we possess, are likely to be integral to any plan unifying the different aspects of our health system.’
Speaking at the conference last week, Dr Kochhar acknowledged that there were still many challenges facing his branch of practice, increasing awareness and implementation of the SAS charters, and fighting to reinstate and protect development funding.
He also reiterated SASC and the wider BMA’s opposition to the Health Education England draft workforce strategy, which would seek to place SAS doctors at the bottom of a proposed health service staffing structure.
He said: ‘While we no doubt have the determination and skills to fight for our patients, fellow colleagues and NHS, we must remain wary that our expertise is not simply exploited and then conveniently overlooked.
‘If we don’t, we risk employers making us work under pressure, while the regulator punishes us should we falter under these conditions. Let us remain vigilant, let us remain resolved and let us remain united in our journey towards ever greater self-empowerment.’