Staff, Associate Speciality and Speciality (SAS) Doctor


Staff, Associate Specialist and Speciality  doctor posts in learning disability psychiatry offer the opportunity to focus more on providing direct patient care and less on the 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 – staff, associate specialist and speciality  doctors can be involved in teaching, service development, research, or management and leadership.

Learning disability psychiatry offers a great deal of opportunity for a high degree of autonomous working to experienced staff, associate specialist, and speciality  doctors.

Salary, hours and benefits

Average salary£49,000 – £52,000

Additional payments are made for out-of-hours commitments.
Typical hoursWorking hours can vary according to the post but a standard full-time working week will be based on a job plan containing 10 programmed activities (PAs). Programme activities are blocks of time equivalent to four hours in which contractual activities are performed. A minimum of one such programme activity (for a full-time doctor) should be used per week to engage in supporting professional activities, as per the national Staff, associate specialist and speciality contract. Such activities include participation in:
  • audit
  • continuing professional development (CPD)
  • local clinical governance activities
  • training
  • formal teaching
  • appraisal
  • job planning
  • research
You could workStaff, associate specialist and speciality  doctors in learning disability psychiatry roles can work in a variety of settings, including in a hospital environment, where they support or run outpatient clinics or ward rounds, and in the community, which could include home visits and community clinic appointments. There should be an appropriate balance between daytime and out-of-hours work, depending on the staff, associate specialist and speciality  doctor’s individual job plan.
  • Nationally negotiated terms and conditions
  • At least 27 days of holiday each yearStudy leave and funded CPD courses
  • Occupational health services
  • Membership of the NHS Pension Scheme
  • Fast track route into speciality training application for overseas doctors
  • Specific job plan, relevant to the SAS doctor’s role including appropriate SPA time
  • Hours of work compliant with the Working
  • Time Regulations
  • Annual appraisal
  • Geographical stability – no rotating through a number of trusts as is the case for doctors in training

What you’ll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • assessing people by getting a history from the person and their carers,
  • identifying the nature of the problem, which would commonly relate to a range of causes such as mental illnesses, autism, physical illness, and environmental and social or interpersonal problems,
  • providing treatment or working with other professionals such as nurses, therapists, and psychologists to provide treatment and support as a team.

Working environment

Staff, associate specialist and speciality  doctors could work in community-based services and provide treatment and support to people with learning disabilities living in their own homes or with families and carers. They could also work in inpatient settings where they may have to deal with patients who could be legally detained and treated compulsorily under the Mental Health Act.

Characteristics and skills required

You’ll need:

  • clinical and professional skills, equivalent to the final level of core training, in the assessment and treatment of people with mental illnesses and behaviour problems,
  • communication skills to overcome any difficulties in communication that a person with a learning disability may have,
  • skills required to work effectively with other health professionals, e.g. nurses, psychologists, and therapists, to arrive at a shared understanding of the individual’s difficulties and to offer a needs-based programme of treatment and support.

Career path and progression

Staff, associate specialist and speciality  posts are career posts and people could work in this role long term if they wished to. They could at any time resume further training to work towards obtaining qualifications that would render them eligible to apply for consultant posts. Alternatively, they could apply to have their experience taken into account to attain eligibility for consultant posts.

Career Framework levelRoleDegree?
3Staff, Associate Speciality and Speciality (SAS) Doctor

Support workers work with people with a learning disability and autistic people to promote independence and wellbeing, and they sometimes provide direct physical help when called for. They mainly work in the community and are most commonly employed by organisations outside of the NHS.
3 and 4Consultant

When you have completed your higher speciality training, you will receive your CCT (Certificate of Completion of Training), which makes you eligible to work as a consultant learning disability psychiatrist.


How to become a Support Worker

Following the completion of a medical degree, entry requirement is equivalent to at least four years of postgraduate training, two of which are in a relevant specialty.

Restrictions and requirements

As well as providing evidence of the required academic qualifications and clinical experience, applicants to Staff, associate specialist and speciality  doctor posts will also need current UK professional registration by the General Medical Council and to pass enhanced background checks. Applications from job seekers who require current Tier 2 sponsorship to work in the UK are considered alongside all other applications.

Tier 2 skilled worker applicants applying for entry clearance into the UK must present a criminal record certificate from each country where they have resided continuously or cumulatively for 12 months or more in the past 10 years.

Financial support

The two foundation years are remunerated and so are the jobs for obtaining postgraduate core and specialty training.

When working as an Staff, associate specialist and speciality  doctor, if you work in an NHS organisation in London, you are given an uplift in salary, known as London weighting. 

This is a percentage increase in your salary depending on the location of your employer within the London region.

Current opportunities

Jobs in the UK

You can apply for roles via individual NHS trusts. The NHS jobs service can help you with your search for jobs and send you alerts when new jobs become available.

Courses in England

Doctors are required to undertake an average of 50 hours per year of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) education, over each five-year period. A minimum of 25 of these must be external, where the learning takes place with others outside the place of employment.

Continuing Professional Development must cover the clinical and non-clinical aspects of practice, as well as any management, research, and teaching or training responsibilities the doctor may have. It can be a mix of formal and informal learning, and the formal learning can be delivered by NHS or private organisations.