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Supporting Professional Activities (SPA) time for Specialist doctors

  • September 02, 2022

Many job adverts will talk about offering dedicated SPA time in your job plan, but what does this really mean? 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.

What is an SPA?

According to the BMA you should have at least one PA (Programmed Activity - a total of four hours) per week of SPA time. Any SPA activity such as teaching, research, clinical management or medical education roles would call for additional SPA time. You should have access to appropriate opportunities for personal development and your employer must consider these as part of your job plan review. 

What is included in SPA time?

According to the BMA, 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 (CPD)

  • 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. Attending 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.
  • Supervision of junior medical staff, including 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.


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

Job planning

  • Gathering information to support discussions at job planning. This includes undertaking diary exercises, providing evidence of types of work activities, etc.

Appraisal and revalidation

  • Gathering 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.

How can we help?

If you’re an international doctor looking to relocate to the UK please email your CV to [email protected] and we can support you in securing an NHS post and on your journey to relocate to the UK.

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

Subscribe to our YouTube channel! We have over 100 videos on everything you need to know about relocating to the UK and joining the NHS!

Listen to BDI Resourcing on the go to IMG Advisor the Podcast. You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Buzzsprout. We have a number of episodes with tips and advice on relocating to the UK and the routes you can take to achieve this.


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