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How your PA's are split as a Radiology Consultant

  • December 19, 2019

If you have been considering relocating to the UK and joining the NHS as a Radiology Consultant, you might ask yourself “how will my time be split up?”. In this article, we look at an example rota and explain how you your schedule could look if you decide to take up a Radiology Consultant position in the NHS.  

Example Radiology Consultant Rota:








Study PA

(may be taken off site)

(1 PA)



Multidisciplinary Meeting


Direct Clinical Care


Direct Clinical Care



Direct Clinical Care (1 PA)

Direct Clinical Care


Reporting (0.5PA)

Study PA (may be taken off site)


Reporting (1PA)

Reporting/On call (1PA)

Total PAs:






Total Hours






What is a Programmed Activity?

A Programmed Activity, or ‘PA’ for short is a 4-hour block of time. Your schedule of work each week is made up of PAs and there are normally 10 per week in a basic schedule. Each PA can be split (for example you might see 0.5PAs or even 0.25PAs which are equivalent to 2 hours and 1 hour respectively).

What are the different PAs?

As you can see on the table, there are different types of PA that you take. In this example, I have included Study PAs (SPAs), Direct Clinical Care, Reporting, On-call and Multidisciplinary meetings (MDTs), but of course depending on the role itself there can be variations (for example ‘0.5PAs to prepare for the MDT).

What do they mean?


Supporting Professional Activities PAs (SPAs) are blocks of time designated for your professional development. According to the Royal College, SPAs are intended time for you to teach, undertake training, further education, Continued Professional Development (CPD) – which includes reading journals, audit, research, appraisal, clinical management, etc. They are not intended for additional NHS responsibilities or external duties.

Depending on the hospital, SPAs may be allowed to be taken off-site. What you do in your SPA depends on your needs – when you begin a role you sit down with the educational lead in the department to work out which areas you would like to develop (or if you would like to conduct research). Your SPAs are therefore time for you to take to develop your skills and keep up to date with new developments within Radiology.


MDTs refer to multidisciplinary meetings. In a normal MDT, medical professionals from one or more clinical discipline (such as radiology, surgery and oncology) meet together to make decisions regarding the treatment of individual patients.

Direct Clinical Care

Direct Clinical Care I have used as a catch-all term for any clinical care that you would be doing. It relates to the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of illness. Under Direct Clinical Care, specific responsibilities would depend on if you were working as a General Radiologist, or if you had a sub-specialist interest. Additionally, if you have any interventional responsibilities, time will be allocated for planning the intervention and conveying this to patients for their consent.

I have put ‘reporting’ as a separate PA to give a rough outline of how time may be split, but often Trusts also put reporting and sometimes MDTs under the title of ‘Direct Clinical Care’ (if reporting and MDTs are included, an average of 7.5PAs normally are allocated for Direct Clinical Care). As a blanket term, ‘Direct Clinical Care’ can refer to reporting, discussing clinical cases, diagnosing cases, participating in MDTs, peer review, supervising registrars/radiographers, discussing potential interventional procedures with clinicians and patients, gaining ‘informed consent’ from patients and attending departmental meetings.

On Call

Being ‘on-call’ as a radiology Consultant can vary widely between hospitals. When joining the NHS, you should expect at consultant level to have some form of on-call responsibilities. An on-call is a contractual arrangement between yourself and the hospital for you to be available for on-call work outside of your core departmental working hours, either at the workplace, at home or elsewhere and you will need to work as and when required. During your on-call hours you have an obligation to be ready and undertake work of an urgent or emergency nature as part of an organised way of working.

For example, you might have 1-8 on calls which could mean that every 8 days you are on-call. It is important to note, however, that each hospital and department varies. So, check your on-call requirements when you receive your NHS offer letter.

Relocation to the UK

If you’re an international Radiologist with plans to relocate to the UK and join the NHS, email your CV to [email protected] and we would love to help you on your journey to the UK.

Are you a member of our Facebook Group? When you join IMG Advisor, you will join a community of doctors all looking to relocate to the UK and join the NHS. We post a series of blogs and vlogs into the group every single day. We will also always be on hand to answer all your relocation queries.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 45 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS!


Royal College of Radiologists, A guide to job planning in clinical radiology, (last accessed 17/12/19).

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Advice on Supporting Professional Activities in consultant job planning, (last accessed 17/12/19).


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