Advisory Appointments Committees (AAC)

The Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC) Unit manages the Royal College of Physician’s role in the appointment of NHS consultant physicians in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

An AAC is a committee formed to appoint clinicians (consultant, specialty doctor, honorary consultant) in the NHS.

The following information has been designed as a guide for trust medical staffing departments when planning appointments for consultant, specialty doctor or honorary consultant posts.

Doctors Graphic 2 (1)

Job description reviews

Before posts are advertised for consultant and specialty doctor posts, medical staffing departments should complete the job description review (JDR) form.

The JDR form and job description should be sent to the local regional office for processing. Browse UK regions for regional office contact details.

The average time taken to respond with a review of a job description is three weeks from receipt of the completed JDR form.

Job description approval process flowchart

Add the RCP approved logo to your job description

The RCP is offering a free five working day service to stamp an ‘RCP-approved’ kitemark on approved job descriptions before they are published to make vacancies more appealing to applicants.

Kite-marking RCP approved job descriptions

Setting up an Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC)

Role of the college representative

Role of the The Royal College of Physicians representative is a core member of an AAC panel. Their main role is to assess the training of applicants to make sure they are suitable for the post and have the necessary qualifications. RCP representatives are full members of an AAC and should be included in the shortlisting process except for SAS doctor AACs where shortlisting is not required.

As soon as an RCP representative is secured for an AAC, the health authority should contact them with details of the AAC. The RCP will send college representatives a guidance pack detailing the role. Here is more detailed information on the RCP representative role.


Royal College of Physicians recommends:

  • any upcoming AACs are planned in good time (at least eight weeks’ notice)
  • college representatives have options to either use video conference software or attend in person to conduct interviews
  • to contact us immediately if a college representative is no longer available to attend a forthcoming AAC
  • to contact us if AACs are rescheduled or cancelled.
  • email everyone on the list simultaneously. You should ideally hear back within three working days, however, please do not wait any longer than one week to contact us if you have not managed to secure someone as a result of contacting everyone on the first list (we can send second and even third lists out provided we have eight weeks of notice). For subsequent lists, please contact us if you have not secured anyone within three working days of contacting everyone on those lists.
  • for any niche specialties, where there aren’t that many Fellows for us to approach, we can let you know, and some amount of flexibility needs to be built in - for e.g. when you try to get in your Execs’, HR/medical workforce representative and other stakeholders’ diaries for possible AAC dates, some trusts have more than one date ear-marked for an AAC, to plan for contingencies. It might be worthwhile asking in your organisation if this is a viable option.

We will, of course, endeavour to do what we can to support the AAC process.

Read the full AAC process

Process for requesting a college representative at an AAC

For NHS trusts, the RCP has a statutory role to play in the appointment of consultants. The NHS (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations 1996 (amended 2004) states that an external representative from the relevant college or faculty should be included in the core membership of an AAC. The Department of Health (DoH) website has useful guidance on this subject.

If your post is based in Wales, please refer to the updated NHS (Appointment of Consultants) good practice guidance, June 2022.

NHS (appointment of consultants) good practice guidance

Appointment of consultants in the NHS in Wales revised guidance

It is a legal requirement for all doctors to be on the GMC’s specialist register before they can take up a consultant appointment. Specialist registrars who have CCT dates no more than six months from the date of an AAC may apply and be interviewed. It is advisable that all other categories of doctors should be on (or likely to be on) the specialist register, before being considered for a consultant appointment by an AAC.

For advice on job planning requirements refer to the RCP guidance for approval of NHS consultant job descriptions.

The RCP strongly advises universities wishing to appoint to senior clinical academic posts with honorary consultant status to seek advice from RCP regional advisers on the clinical component of job descriptions. Please note that holders of honorary contracts cannot fill paid NHS consultant posts without fulfilling the provision of the regulations.

Please refer to the NHS guidance above on senior clinical academics/honorary consultant contracts.

Universities should bear in mind the great importance attached by the profession to obtaining approval of the job description.

Please use the above 'Job description review form - consultant' when making approval requests for these job descriptions.

Specialist grade

The specialist grade introduced in April 2021 requires employers to use the generic capabilities framework and template person specification, which they will develop based on the requirements of the service. A doctor in this grade:

  • shall have full registration and licence to practice with the General Medical Council
  • shall have completed a minimum of 12 years medical work (either continuous period or in aggregate) since obtaining a primary medical qualification, of which a minimum of six years should have been in a relevant specialty
  • shall meet the criteria set out in the generic capabilities framework that has been developed.

Specialty doctor

A doctor in this grade:

  • shall have full registration and licence to practice with the General Medical Council
  • shall have completed at least four years’ full-time postgraduate training (or its equivalent gained on a part time or flexible basis), at least two of which will be in a specialty training programme in a relevant specialty or as a fixed term specialty trainee in a relevant specialty; or equivalent experience and competencies.

Guidance for approving NHS specialty doctor posts


The RCP recognises that the majority of foundation trusts continue to involve the RCP in the AAC process, which is supported by a named RCP representative service. Medical staffing departments should email requests to the RCP who will try to secure an RCP representative for you. For NHS foundation trust AACs we can only process requests for a college representative with at least eight weeks’ notice prior to the AAC date.


Please check your regional office by region > Browse UK regions

Here is a list of specialties covered by RCP.

The AAC team on or +44151 3181899 / +44 1513181896 / +44 2030751580 / +44 1513181871

According to The National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations

Good practice guidance:

  • 6.1 It is for the Trust to determine arrangements for the payment of expenses to candidates, whether for pre-interview visits or for interview, subject to the provisions of their terms and conditions of service.
  • 6.2 Members of the AAC will be reimbursed their actual expenses including travel, hotel accommodation and other subsistence allowances in accordance with the rules of the Trust.

All NHS Trusts, Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities require a rep when making appointments to consultant posts.

The 1996 Regulations and subsequent amendments do not apply to NHS Foundation Trusts although they can follow this guidance when appointing to a consultant post if they so choose.