Advisory Appointments Committees and Job Description Approvals

The College is responsible for reviewing job descriptions and nominating assessors to attend Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC) panels for all non-training posts in the NHS in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man/Channel Islands.

Important notice in response to COVID-19

At this time recruitment remains the responsibility of the employing body and the RCoA will endeavour to support trusts in how they opt to proceed given the current circumstances, as long as they act in accordance with NHS Employers advice and in response to local conditions and need.

Job description reviews

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the availability of our Regional Advisers to review job descriptions. As such please note the following:

  • if you wish to submit a JD for review please note it will take longer than normal for the outcome.
  • for expired JD approvals, please note that we have extended our approval time frame from 6 months to 1 year from the initial date of approval so long as the JD has not been altered. If you are unsure whether your approval is still valid please check with the AAC team.
  • for urgent appointments we recommend that you advertise for the post with the proviso that College approval will be sought retrospectively and candidates will receive a copy of the approved JD prior to interview.

AAC panels

The COVID-19 outbreak has had a severe impact on the availability of clinicians to attend AACs. In light of, this the RCoA recommends:

  • any upcoming AACs are planned in good time (at least 8 weeks’ notice)
  • travel of College representatives be avoided where possible and instead utilise videoconference software to conduct interviews 
  • to contact us immediately if a College representative is no longer available to attend a forthcoming AAC
  • to contact us as soon as possible if AACs are postponed/cancelled.

We will continue to keep this information under review and update accordingly. You are advised to keep checking back for the latest information.

FAQs for post-COVID AAC panels and JD approvals

Yes, they are required, as set out by the NHS (Appointment of Consultant) Regulations, and we are still able to find representatives on your behalf however this may be via videoconference rather than in person.

Foundation Trusts are an exception to this requirement but the RCoA strongly encourages these HR departments to seek college input as best practice for quality assurance purposes.

Yes, and we have been supporting and encouraging this practice during the pandemic.

Yes, the normal process continues to run and all JDs should be sent to for approval. Guidance on writing a job description is available.

We advise clinical directors and leads to include the expected post-COVID job plan and appropriate person specification with a covering statement that until the pandemic has passed, a different and more flexible job plan may initially be worked by the successful candidate.

Consultants are long term appointments and their long-term interests along with the department’s should be considered in any job description above short term flexibility.

FAQs relating to the introduction of the new specialist doctor grade

The requirements for the new specialist doctor grade in terms of JD approval and representation on interview panels are broadly the same as those for SAS grade doctors. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges approved the concordat for College and Faculty involvement in the recruitment process for this new grade of doctors in February 2021. The RCoA is happy to review job descriptions for appointments at this level, and will send an assessor to interview panels upon request.

There are many materials published on the NHS Employers website regarding both the reform of the contract for SAS doctors, and the introduction of the specialist grade.

Job description approvals

The College manages the approval of job descriptions and person specifications for consultant and SAS grade posts in anaesthesia, intensive care medicine and pain medicine.

To submit a job description/person specification for approval, please email it to

Attendance at AAC panels

The College nominates assessors to attend AAC panels where requested. It is expected that eight weeks’ notice is given to maximise the chances of finding an appropriate assessor to attend.

Once a panel date has been agreed internally, medical HR are requested to email with the date, time and location of the panel, attaching a copy of the approved JD and the approval form to request an assessor to attend.