Consultants who train should have at least 0.25 SPAs per supervisee

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  25 May 2012

Consultants who provide training should be allocated at least 0.25 supporting professional activities (SPAs) for each person they supervise, junior doctors have stated.

However, those who do not use their SPA time appropriately towards training or who are not good at education should not be allowed to provide training, delegates at the BMA’s junior doctors conference agreed last week.

Consultants should be adequately compensated for the high quality educational supervision required for safe, effective, and rewarding training, said Darshan Brahmbhatt, chairman of the Eastern Region Junior Doctors Committee.

Training and education are a fundamental part of a consultant’s work, agreed Jeya Palan, a trainee at University Hospitals Leicester. “However, not all consultants should have trainees, and those consultants who show that they are keen and enthusiastic and good at training should be supported, whereas consultants who have no interest and have been shown to be not very good at training should not have trainees,” he said.

Delegates at the conference called on the BMA to press deaneries for the withdrawal of training posts at employing organisations that do not support a minimum standard of at least 0.25 SPAs per supervisee.

The consultant contract recommends that an agreement for a week’s work of 10 programmed activities should include at least 2.5 SPAs, to be spent on activities such as teaching, training, education, continuing professional development, and appraisal.

However, SPA time is being eroded in some areas, and many consultants are on contracts with fewer than 2.5 SPAs a week, such as a split of 8.5 to 1.5.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has warned that consultants will need at least 1.5 SPAs to keep up to date for the purposes of revalidation, and those consultants on 8.5:1.5 contracts could have no time remaining for activities such as teaching.

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: