Celebrating SAS week in the North West

SAS Week: Seven speciality and specialist doctors have been appointed to diagnostics teams at Northern Care Alliance, from overseas.

Speciality and specialist (SAS) doctors form a significant proportion of the medical workforce, in any organisation. SAS week, 9-13 October, provides the opportunity for NHS organisations to celebrate these experienced doctors within the workforce, as well as raising it’s profile as a career.

In 2022, the General Medical Council published “The State of Medical Education and Practice in the UK” which sets out the benefits of recruiting International Medical Graduates (IMG) as Speciality and Associate Specialist Doctors (SAS) to support the NHS and reduce workload pressures.

Dr Joel Paul, Clinical Director of Infection Sciences (Microbiology & Virology) at Northern Care Alliance NHS FT saw an opportunity in this and worked to utilise the Royal College of Pathologists Specialist Grade Job Description and the British Infection Association’s “Best Practice Standards for the delivery of NHS Infection Services in the United Kingdom’ to complete a reconfiguration of senior microbiology and virology positions at the Northern Care Alliance and develop a business case, for recruiting IMGs.

The International Medical Graduates have had many years of infection related experiences in other countries, but to fulfil the role of Infection Sciences Specialist Grade doctors in the NHS would require three to six months to develop in post, and a further six to 12 months to embed into routine practice.

The Department have appointed a total of seven Specialist Grade Doctors and Clinical Fellows), from Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka. Because of this the Department now has a full staffing establishment.

Across the UK there has been a shortage of Consultant Grade Doctors in Infection Sciences (Microbiology and Virology) in the NHS, but after recruiting the IMGs, Northern Care Alliance NHS FT have three Specialist Grade doctors working in Microbiology, one in Virology and there are now three senior clinical fellows working in Microbiology.

Four women and one man looking at camera

Dr Joel Paul and his team have shared some takeaway tips for International Recruiters:

  • Develop a good Business Case with support from key stakeholders from the Department and Executive Team.
  • The skill mix / reconfiguration of senior microbiologist and virologist positions should be led and supported by a regional group.
  • NHS Employers have developed an International Recruitment Toolkit for colleagues involved in leading and delivering international recruitment in the NHS. It aims to encourage and enable good practices and processes for the recruitment of international staff across a wide range of professions.
  • Use the NHS Employers SAS Induction Checklist which supports employers in providing SAS doctors with a good induction to allow a smooth transition into their new role.
  • Implement NHS Employers SAS Charter which sets out the support available to SAS doctors and what they can expect from their employers. It includes recommendations around contracts, job planning, development, involvement in organisational structures and recruitment.
  • Implement the NHS Employers SAS Development Guide to make sure that this important group of doctors remain fit to practice and develop in their careers.

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