[Skip to Content]


Ophthalmologists in the Staff and Associate Specialist (SAS) group include Associate Specialists, Staff Grades, Specialty Doctors, Clinical Assistants and non-standard, non-training Trust Grades, many of whom are working at a senior level in hospitals with a wide range of responsibilities.

The following documents recognise the roles that SAS doctors in the delivery of care for patients and provide useful information in the development of careers and fitness to practice:

SAS doctors’ roles and experience can vary and the SAS grade has changed through the years:

  • Some doctors have become successful in CESR and are now consultants.
  • Others have chosen to stay in their niche role of Associate Specialist (which is now closed) or Staff Grade Doctor and do a lot of autonomous work in their departments; depending on experience, these SAS doctors can perform intraocular surgery, laser treatments, work in subspecialist as well as general clinics, perform appraisals with relevant training, even be a clinical director.
  • New SAS doctors e.g. from the EU or overseas, are joining the workforce as Trust doctors or Specialty doctors. Some new SAS doctors will plan to take CESR eventually. Some will be taught intraocular surgery and develop in their chosen subspecialty.

SAS doctors have an important role in the workforce.

Being a member (by examination or affiliate) of the Royal College has benefits to SAS doctors:

  • Registration for CPD and e-Portfolio which is a very helpful tool for appraisal purposes in that it enables reflections on learning as evidence of supporting information in PDF format; a College certificate of CPD activity is available.
  • Receipt of the EYE journal and College News.
  • Access to standards of practice and guidelines.
  • CPD access to the AAO and ONE network.
  • Revalidation queries.
  • Represent the SAS grade on the SAS committee and College subcommittees.
  • Reduced fees to attend College Congress.
  • Fees are tax deductable.

Not all SAS doctors are Members or Fellows of the Royal College. It is possible to be an affiliate member and receive all the benefits of membership. SAS doctors can apply for membership by election to the Royal College after 5 years in a substantive UK post (guidelines of eligibilty for this will be available soon).


Allows doctors who have not completed a UK specialist training programme and have a combination of qualifications and/or training and experience gained anywhere in the world to be evaluated as part of an application for entry to the GMC Specialist Register. See here for more advice.

(If you are interested in Medical Ophthalmology you need to contact The Royal College of Physicians (JRCPTB) as they assess applications for medical ophthalmology).

Want more information?