Supporting professional activities (SPA) time

This guidance will help you to understand what qualifies as a supporting professional activity to help you monitor your time for the job planning process.
Location: UK
Audience: SAS doctors
Updated: Thursday 30 April 2020
Contract and pen article illustration

When you calculate your SPAs as part of the job planning process, it’s important to know what qualifies as a SPA and how many you should be doing on average per week as part of your contract.

 

SAS doctors working full time

What time SAS doctors are entitled to

Contractually one PA (Programmed Activity) (equivalent to four hours) per week of SPA (Supporting Professional Activity) time.

The precise balance between SPA time and other work will be determined locally and set out in the doctor's job plan. This is explained in schedule 4 of the SAS TCS (terms and conditions of service).

Some SAS doctors have negotiated the same SPA time as their consultant colleagues and this will depend on experience and career level.

We would suggest that the majority of SAS doctors over threshold two of the specialty doctor contract and anyone on the associate specialist (AS) contract would require a minimum of two SPAs. 

This is in line with good practice guidance in Wales (produced by the Welsh Assembly Government) which advocates 20% of time for SPAs for all SAS doctors.

 

What is included in SPA time?

Activities undertaken in supporting professional activity time underpin direct clinical care work, and might include (but are not restricted to) participation in:

Continuing professional development

  • Educational meetings and associated paperwork e.g. applying for CPD certificates with records of educational meetings attended and CPD points.
  • Reading and other self-study, on-line learning or CPD Modules, postgraduate meetings, peer meetings (specialty and locality), external training events (lectures, courses, conferences, case presentations, journal clubs).
  • Meeting requirements as set by the appropriate royal college.
  • Review of papers for journals.
  • Business travel time (as necessary eg, for a CPD, training event, audit, research outside your place of work).

Teaching and training

  • General teaching, lectures and tutorials for medical students and junior doctors.
  • Work as an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) examiner.
  • Post-graduate supervision of junior medical staff, including formal timetabled sessions and daily support and advice.
  • Reading and commenting on updated teaching materials prepared by colleagues.
  • Teaching non-medical staff eg, allied healthcare professionals, pharmacists and nursing staff.

 

Audit

  • Supervision of audit (ie, directing and supporting trainees' audit projects).
  • Planning individual or department audit projects.
  • Online assessment of audit mortality notes.
  • Scrutinising internal audit data.

 

Job planning

  • Collation of information for appraisal folder and preparation of the paperwork.
  • Annual appraisal meeting.
  • Appraising colleagues and completing associated paperwork.
  • Training others in the appraisal process.

 

Appraisal and revalidation

  • Collation of information for appraisal folder and preparation of the paperwork.
  • Annual appraisal meeting.
  • Appraising colleagues and completing associated paperwork.
  • Training others in the appraisal process.

 

Contribution to service management and planning

  • Divisional meetings and associated work.
  • Clinical policy forum work.
  • Local specialty advisory committee membership.
  • Staff interviews, including short-listing.
  • Medical staff committee/association duties, including meetings and preparation.
  • Rota design, planning and management.
  • Lead clinician roles.