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The SAS (Specialist, Associate Specialist and Specialty) grade previously known as NCCG (non consultant career grade) are a diverse group with a wide range of skills, experience and specialties.

They are an essential part of the medical workforce. A career as a SAS doctor can be a very satisfying and rewarding alternative to becoming a consultant or GP and there are many different reasons for choosing it as a long or short term career option. Many SAS doctors chose this career path as it affords them a perceived improved work-life balance.

SAS doctor posts usually offer the opportunity to focus predominantly on providing direct patient care and less on the other clinical and non-clinical responsibilities required of a consultant or trainee. Depending on their personal interests and experience - and the available opportunities in their trust and specialty - SAS doctors can be involved in teaching, service development, research or management and leadership.

In Wales, there are approximately 800 SAS doctors and they form a significant hospital workforce in the NHS of approximately 20% (plus 338 doctors in post who occupy non-standard contracts). Many of these doctors have postgraduate qualifications and are Fellows and Members of the Royal Colleges. A significant number of these doctors are working at a very senior level independently / autonomously with increasing responsibility.

The new contract for SAS doctors, which was negotiated in 2021, has now been implemented in all Health Boards.  A new Specialist grade is now available for those Specialty grade doctors who can regrade to this through open competition if a job is advertised and subject to them meeting the requirements. 

The professional needs and development of SAS doctors have not been adequately met in the past and we recognise the need for them to have access to better training. The SAS team in HEIW are excited to be in the process of developing bespoke “training” and support opportunities for SAS doctors who have further plans to develop a wide range of skills to support career aspirations be that following the CESR route and getting their name on the specialist register or developing further skills in their present jobs.

There are three key aims of the strategy for SAS Doctors:

  1. to develop the local infrastructure to support SAS doctors within each Health Board.

  2. to provide access to additional training opportunities that support their personal development.

  3. to explore and pilot opportunities to introduce a quality assurance framework that will assist them in seeking revalidation.

Dr Ian Collings as Director of Medic Professional Support and Developments works closely with Mr Raj Nirula, the Associate Postgraduate Dean for SAS Doctors in Wales, and the rest of the SAS team in HEIW.

Mr Nirula was appointed as COPMeD Lead Associate Postgraduate Dean for SAS Doctors from 1 January 2021.

The team provides leadership for and facilitates the education, training and career progression for all SAS doctors in Wales. The team is supported by a network of SAS Tutors based in each of the Health Boards across Wales who help facilitate training and career progression for SAS doctors. They are:

Health Board


Hospital Base


Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board 

Dr Raghu Acharya

Princess of Wales Hospital


Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Dr Hesham Elhegni

County Hospital, Newport

Care of the Elderly

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Dr Michelle Hatch

Glan Clwyd Hospital

Intensive Care

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Mrs Swati Kumar

University Hospital of Wales

Ear, Nose & Throat

Swansea Bay University Health Board

Dr Geetanjali Ratnalikar

Neath Port Talbot


Hywel Dda University Health Board

Dr Nicola Allen

Bronglais General Hospital

General Surgery

SAS (Specialist, Associate Specialist and Specialty) Advocates

The SAS Advocate is a new role that has been introduced and implemented in Wales as part of the contract negotiations with Welsh Government, BMA Cymru Wales and NHS Wales Employers. Each large health board has recruited and appointed an SAS Advocate. SAS Advocates are a point of contact for SAS doctors who will advocate on their behalf, improve the visibility of SAS doctors within the organisation and be an important additional interface between SAS doctors and the management team, as each SAS Advocate reports to a Medical Director within the health board.

You can find the contact details of your SAS Advocate here:

Health Board/NHS Employing Organisations

SAS Advocate

Hospital Base

Aneurin Bevan UHB Dr Naeem Aziz Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan Associate Specialist
Betsi Cadwaladr UHB Dr Julie Jones Wrexham Maelor Hospital Associate Specialist/ Medical Oncology
Cardiff & Vale UHB Dr Frauke Pelz University Hospital of Wales Associate Specialist / Medical Genetics
Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB Dr Urmil Chalishazar Royal Glamorgan Hospital Associate Specialist/ENT
Hywel Dda UHB Dr Sally Kidsley Glangwili General Hospital Locum Consultant/ Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare
Powys Teaching Health Board Dr Julia Bignall Brecon Hospital Speciality Doctor/Old Age
Swansea Bay UHB Dr Naleen Thota Morriston Hospital Associate Specialist/ Anaesthetics
Velindre University NHS Trust Nikki Pease Velindre Cancer Centre Consultant in palliative medicine

Training and recognition

The SAS Tutors have access to funding to put on local training opportunities within their local health board.

We administer two funding rounds for bursaries to further support SAS doctors’ professional development. SAS doctors are invited to submit an evaluation form to HEIW following completion of their training. This tells us if their CPD needs are being addressed and their feedback is presented to the Associate Dean and SAS Tutors for review and future planning purposes.

We also organise a programme of regular generic training courses for SAS doctors in Wales based on a thorough learning needs analysis of SAS doctors.

Since 2009 we have organised SAS conferences which have provided an opportunity for SAS doctors to network and to learn more about changes taking place within the NHS. We also recognise SAS doctors for their outstanding teaching or innovation as part of the BEST Awards. We continue to look for alternative quality assurance frameworks to enable SAS doctors to evidence and record their competence and experience.

SAS charter

charter which ensures Staff and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors and dentists in Wales are properly supported in the workplace, and receive the recognition they deserve, was launched in Wales in August 2016.

Recognition, support and development of SAS doctors has been promoted by HEIW in addition to making sure the Charter is fully implemented in all of the Health Boards.

The Charter supports the of recognition and development of SAS doctors and the Wales Deanery was a stakeholder in the Charter. HEIW will continue to promote and monitor the implementation of the Charter.

Generic courses - 2023/2024

HEIW organise a suite of human factors courses for SAS doctors and dentists every year. The training courses are held via Teams or Zoom and are free to attend. Please check back here in the coming months for further information.

Applications for funding

We have allocated funding for professional development for SAS doctors/dentists. They can apply for funding from us for any course or top-up training which they think will help them in their service development and postgraduate qualifications e.g., postgraduate certificate in education / Masters.

This funding is over and above the study leave budget. The funding is to cover course fees only i.e., not for travel and/or subsistence. The amount of funding awarded will be determined against the number of eligible applications received. After an SAS Doctor has undertaken professional development, they will need to complete an evaluation form, detailing how the course has benefitted their Health Board and themselves.

If you are an SAS doctor or dentist in Wales, and are not on our email distribution list, please email with your name, specialty, grade and Health Board, and your name will be included on the distribution list to receive timely information. Applications are still being invited for funding for courses taking place before the end of March 2023. Please email for an application form and further guidance.

SAS Doctors' and Dentists conference

Each year, two SAS doctors’ and dentists’ conferences have been held (typically one in North Wales and one in South Wales) providing an opportunity for SAS doctors to network with each other, to understand the work that HEIW is doing to support SAS doctors in Wales and to receive vital information on any changes taking place within the NHS. The next SAS Doctors’ and Dentists’ Conference will take place on Tuesday 30 April 2024, online via MS Teams.

SAS Doctors’ and Dentists’ Conference registration

For any issues relating to your role as an SAS doctor or dentist please email and a member of our team will respond as soon as possible.