"SPA" Time for Trainees
It is acknowledged within the Consultant contract that a great deal of work is done that is non-clinical in nature, but is essential to the smooth running of the Hospitals, the training of new staff and the NHS as a whole. This work is categorised as "Supporting Professional Activity" or SPA work, and covers such things as Educational commitments (being an Educational Supervisor), local development roles (writing guidelines, sitting on local negotiating committees) and national roles (e.g. working for the RCoA).
Increasingly it has been recognised that the trainee Anaesthetist also has to develop non-clinical competencies, and trainees often take part in a huge amount of extra activity both to develop themselves and to develop the environment around them. Local College Tutors have been very supportive of trainees getting involved in these opportunities and have helped them to get time back or have reshuffled training commtiments in order to ensure a good work life balance.
Some of the Yorkshire and the Humber trainees decided to try and formalise these "trainee SPA" arrangements that were occurring on an ad-hoc basis around the region. This culminated in a draft guideline written up by Drs Charles and Thoms in 2018 that was subsequently added to by local trainers and then ratified by the local STCs. It was launched across the Yorkshire and the Humber School of Anaesthetia in 2019. The document aims to provide some guidance about how SPA time should be used, and how potential pitfalls can be avoided. The guidance is not mandated policy, nor is is an HEE document, it is simply trying to help trainee and trainer optimise local non-clinical education, without encroaching upon a sensible work/life balance. Each Trust will implement or be able to provide different aspects of the guidance, and the local College Tutors have the final say on the SPA time for their trainees.
The full guidance document can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.