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GMC survey on treatment affecting SAS doctors mirrors results of RCOphth SAS Survey in 2017

9 January 2020

A survey released today, 9 January, by the GMC has found that many SAS and LE doctors experience rudeness, incivility, belittling and humiliation, in the workplace.

The survey found that 30% of SAS doctors and 23% of their LE counterparts had been bullied, undermined or harassed at work in the last year, either by colleagues or by patients and their families. Where bullying related to protected characteristics was reported, race was the most commonly-cited factor.

In addition to suffering abuse, many doctors who took the survey replied ‘no’ or ‘not sure’ when asked if they knew how to raise a concern about such treatment.

RCOphth found similar results in its SAS survey 2017/18, which echoes the findings of the GMC report.

SAS and LE doctors make up 30% of the workforce, playing an increasingly vital role as demand rises beyond available capacity. The RCOphth believes this crucial group of doctors needs more support to optimise their ability to provide efficient and excellent patient care.

In its advocation for SAS and LE doctors, the College has campaigned for more recognition for the role of ‘The invisible ophthalmologist’. RCOphth believes SAS/LE working is a positive and fulfilling career choice, allowing flexibility and a better work life balance whether this leads to CESR, training programmes or consultancy.

Our SAS survey has been used to develop an action plan leading to an active programme where the College supports SAS and LE doctors in ophthalmology with specific tools and resources such as educational frameworks, guidance to clinical leads and trusts, promotion of leadership roles in hospitals and in the College, autonomous working, publicising positive role models and showcasing success for SAS doctors.

The College will continue to explore how to establish more formalised programmes of training for SAS and LE doctors which aid them in their career.  We also would welcome the reinstatement of the Associate Specialist grade with recognition and remuneration of experience and skills within a clear career ladder.

Charlie Massey, the GMC’s Chief Executive, said, ‘Doctors in SAS and LE roles are a hugely diverse group, and for many it is a positive career choice. It is unacceptable that they, or anyone, should have to experience this type of behaviour. That many of these doctors, who are so crucial to UK healthcare, are being treated this way is shocking. It must change.

‘SAS and LE doctors are a vital part of the UK’s healthcare workforce. Like all doctors they need and deserve working environments that are fully supportive, to maximise their potential to deliver good care to patients.’

You can read the full report here