Guidance for College representatives on AACs
What is the role of the College representative/AAC Assessor on an AAC?
- To assess the candidates and assure themselves, the panel, and the RCoA, FICM and/or FPM, that the successful appointee has evidence of suitable training and experience for the post.
- The college assessors provide external bench marking and validation. The assessor will ensure that standards are not relaxed in the interest of local service provision and ensure that patient safety and the quality of service are maintained.
- The assessor should be involved in all stages of the AAC including the shortlisting.
- The role of the AAC assessor during the interview need not be restricted to questions related to the information provided on application forms, although question areas should be agreed by the committee before the interviewing starts.
- The AAC assessor should be present throughout the interview process. When additional selection criteria are used by employers, e.g. personality tests or clinical presentations, it should be clearly stated if the results are to be considered at the AAC and if so, the AAC assessor should be given the opportunity to attend and/or access to the results of those tests.
- Assessors must remain impartial at all times to ensure the process is fair.
Frequently Asked Questions
As a minimum you must have completed equal opportunities training before attending an AAC.
The RCoA runs training sessions for assessors, which includes equal opportunities and interviewing techniques. You must attend one of these trainings at least once every three years.
It is up to you how many AACs you attend each year. The RCoA AAC team sets no upper or lower limit on the number of AACs an assessor attends each year. The RCoA AAC team will send you a letter at the end of each year confirming the number of AACs that you have attended for your records.
Should you be approached directly by a hospital to serve on an AAC, you should refer such requests immediately to the AAC Administrator at the RCoA (email@example.com).
In most circumstances, the RCoA, FICM and FPM will not send a representative to an AAC panel if the job description is not approved. However, exceptions are made when the only reason for non-approval of the role is the amount of supporting professional activity (SPA) time in the job plan.
The RCoA, FICM and FPM require a minimum of 1.5 SPAs per week for consultants and specialty doctors to maintain competence and allow revalidation.
If you do not feel comfortable attending AACs when the post is not approved, please let us know. You or the Chair should check with the candidate that they are aware the post is non-approved.
The RCoA AAC team will send you the approved job description, the completed RA approval form(s) and the contact details of the employing authority. The employing authority will be sent your contact details and should be in touch regarding shortlisting processes and logistics for the day. If you have not made contact with the employer two weeks before the AAC, please contact the RCoA AAC team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should be involved in the shortlisting process. If you have agreed to attend an AAC at short notice, the shortlisting may have already taken place. In this case, you should review the candidates’ applications to ensure that you are comfortable that all shortlisted applicants meet the minimum criteria for the role.
There can be a significant variation in the application and short-listing processes between employers. You should encourage employers to make explicit what information is required for application, as well as what the panel members will receive to shortlist.
In some regions, a local shortlisting meeting is held before the AAC. It is usually impractical for the assessor to travel twice, so assessors should make sure that their views on the proposed shortlist will be noted. Using video or telephone conferencing to join the shortlisting meeting may be an option.
If you have serious concerns about a job description, you should contact the RCoA AAC team immediately.
If you think unapproved changes have been made, you should raise these with the RA, via the AAC team, and Chair of the AAC and resolve the issue well before the AAC meets. It is poor practice for disputes over the job description to be first raised on the day of the AAC and unacceptable for them to be discussed during an AAC with candidates present.
You can contact the RCoA AAC team on email@example.com before the AAC panel meets, usually at the shortlisting stage, to confirm the eligibility of candidates.
The RCoA AAC team will confirm the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) or Certificate of Eligibility for Speciality Registration-Combined Programme (CESR-CP) dates for all relevant candidates. Trainees are only eligible to be interviewed if they have less than 6 months remaining before their CCT/CESR-CP* date on the date of the AAC panel. If the date that the trainee has provided in their application is different to that provided by the RCoA AAC team, the trainee should contact the training department at the RCoA, FICM or FPM immediately.
Applicants who have not undergone their training through the RCoA, FICM or FPM must be on the Specialist Register held by the General Medical Council by the date of the panel. Applicants who are still seeking equivalence and their Certificate of Eligibility for Specialist Registration (CESR) are not eligible to be interviewed.
Candidates due to CCT in EEA countries should be treated as UK candidates.
* CESR-CP requires individuals to have undergone ARCPs within the normal process
It is not the role of the College assessor to advise candidates before or after an AAC. If you are approached by a candidate redirect them to the trust. Contact details for who to discuss a job description with should be provided within the advertised job description.
Assessors will inform the College firstname.lastname@example.org at the earliest opportunity of any problems relating to their attendance at the AAC. We will endeavour to source a replacement where possible.
The NHS Good Practice Guidance outlines the process that employers should follow.
The College highlights the following points:
- All core members of the AAC should be present throughout the interview process.
- Question areas should be agreed by the committee before interviewing starts.
- You should be clear about how any other selection processes, such as psychometric testing or presentations, will be considered as part of the AAC. If they will be taken into account, then you should have at least received feedback from these exercises.
- You will take part in discussions at the end of the interviews to determine the AAC’s recommendation.
- Copies of any notes that you take at the AAC should be securely retained by the employing authority. Remember when making these notes that they will be retained and may be released to the candidate if a subject-access request is submitted or a challenge made to the process.
If at any point you lose connection with the panel you should attempt to flag this with the Chair as soon as possible. The RCoA recommends discussion with the Chair before the panel starts what method they can use to contact them if such a situation arises.
If funding has been confirmed the trust are able to appoint further posts following the AAC granted that the job description for those roles is the same as interviewed for and the candidates are suitable. The trust has six months from the date of the AAC in which they can appoint this way. After this date, the JD will need re-approval (if expired) and a new AAC panel must be convened.
You should return a post-AAC feedback form to the RCoA AAC team. This will have been sent to you when you agreed to attend the AAC. This should be completed as fully as possible and returned to the RCoA even if no appointment is made. Completion of this form helps in all discussions regarding the workforce planning for anaesthetists, intensivists and pain medicine specialists.
You should destroy any personal data about the candidates and notes from the shortlisting process that you hold in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
It is not the duty of the assessor to provide feedback to the candidates. Any queries should be directed back to the personnel department at the employer.
Should an employing authority receive a legal challenge from one of the candidates complaining that the AAC was unconstitutional or that there had been discrimination, we would expect the employing authority to confirm and comply with all the procedures required by the Statutory Instrument.
Full support will be given to any assessor who feels that having given their guidance, the AAC is making a recommendation that conflicts with the maintenance of appropriate standards. Where this action is taken by the employer, you should alert the RCoA AAC team (email@example.com). Please forward copies of relevant correspondence at this stage. This information will be considered by the relevant RCoA or Faculty officers.
When the appointment is considered to be unsafe, the President or Dean will contact the CEO of the employing organisation.
The RCoA, FICM and FPM are not regulators and have few sanctions they can apply if an employer fails to heed its best practice advice in organising an AAC. However, in practice, it is rare for RCoA, FICM or FPM advice to go unheeded, as our focus is on assisting the employer to select the best possible candidate for the advertised post and to protect the employer from any subsequent claims by an unsuccessful candidate that the AAC was ill-formed and unjust in its decision making process.
The employing authority pays the AAC assessor’s fee and expenses and all queries should be directed to them.
The fees that you can claim from the employing authority for attending an AAC Panel are set by NHS Employers and can be found in Annex A: Section 11 of the “Pay and Conditions Circular (M&D) 1/2017”.
You will claim your expenses, including travel, hotel accommodation and other subsistence allowances in accordance with the rules of the employing authority, from the employing authority concerned as outlined in Section 6 of the NHS (Appointment of Consultants) Good Practice Guidance, January 2005.