A UHDB anaesthetist is aiming to help raise the profile of Speciality and Associate Specialist (SAS) doctors at Trust level and on a national scale too after being appointed into a role that is the first of its kind in the NHS.
Dr Gauri Sankhe recently took on the role of UHDB’s first ever SAS Advocate, which is a position that has been created to improve support for the wellbeing of SAS doctors – something that is especially important right now in the midst of the pandemic.
In addition to providing a visible point of contact for SAS doctors at the Trust to reach out to for help as part of her role, Dr Sankhe can also direct these colleagues to any health and wellbeing support they need, and work with our Trust Board to address any issues experienced by our staff.
UHDB is actually the first NHS Trust in the country to appoint a colleague into the SAS Advocate role, with Dr Sankhe expressing her hope that colleagues nationwide will also put their names forward for the role, in order to improve the working-life experiences of other SAS doctors at their organisation.
She said: “Having already been a Wellbeing Champion for my department at UHDB and having witnessed the effect that the pandemic has had, when this role came up, I became very interested in what it entailed.
“Having first-hand knowledge of the challenges being faced by SAS colleagues, I thought that if I get selected for this role at Trust level, I could help raise the profile of the grade by working closely with other committee members, such as SAS tutors and representatives, the local negotiating committee and our Trust board.
“I couldn’t have done this without the support of our Trust board, as well as my colleagues in the Anaesthesia department, so I’d like to say a huge thank you to them for their backing.”
SAS doctors work across every hospital speciality and are experienced and senior doctors in permanent posts that have at least four years of full-time postgraduate training, including two years in their relevant speciality.
The advocate role has been introduced nationally with the main goal of improving the experiences of SAS doctors at work and is a key part of the 2021 contract talks between NHS Employers, the Department of Health and the British Medical Association (BMA) trade union.
Dr Magnus Harrison, Executive Medical Director at UHDB, said: “The wellbeing of all of our colleagues is of paramount importance to us at UHDB, and this includes our SAS doctors, who have made an immeasurable difference throughout the pandemic. We hope that appointing our first SAS Advocate is recognition of this fact and showcases our commitment to improving the experience of our colleagues at work. I’d like to congratulate to Dr Sankhe on her appointment for this new role, which will hopefully help us to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by our SAS doctors and make a positive impact to their work-life experiences.”
Dr Rajesh Kumar, Chair of the BMA’s SAS Doctors Committee, added: “I hope that SAS doctors across England and Wales will take inspiration from Dr Sankhe’s appointment and consider putting themselves forward to serve as advocates in their own workplaces.
“The SAS Advocate will be the champion for workplace-related issues of individual SAS doctors, including bullying and harassment, and will take it up with the Trust management, thereby making their workplace safer and attractive for our SAS colleagues.”