GMC has published the initial results of its first ever survey of SAS and LE doctors with many reporting “unfair treatment”.

Associate Specialist (SAS) and Locally Employed (LE) doctors reported workplace experiences including rudeness, incivility, belittling and humiliation.

Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors includes staff grade, associate specialist and specialty doctors with at least four years of postgraduate training, two of which are in a relevant specialty.

Locally Employed (LE) doctors encompass a wide range of roles defined by the GMC.

Whist many doctors see SAS and LE roles as positive career choices 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.  Around one in six respondents reported suffering threatening or insulting comments or behaviour. Where bullying related to protected characteristics was reported, race was the most commonly-cited factor.

Of some concern is the fact that many SAS and LE doctors replied ‘no’ or ‘not sure’ when asked if they knew how to raise a concern about such treatment.

Through this work the GMC acknowledged that “Poor working relationships and a lack of support in pressured environments impacts on doctors’ health and wellbeing as well as on patient care. SAS and LE doctors may be more isolated, have less support, and may miss out on opportunities available to doctors in traditional training roles.

It is already a known fact that poor support and isolation, such as that experienced by SAS and LE doctors, can lead to a disproportionate amount of fitness to practise referrals to the GMC.

A report previously published by the GMC, “Fair to refer?” showed that black and minority ethic (BME) doctors face disproportionate referrals of to the GMC for fitness to practise concerns and nearly two-thirds of SAS and LE doctors are from BME backgrounds.

Stephen McCaffrey

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