Intended for healthcare professionals


Consultants’ non-clinical time is being relentlessly squeezed, says BMA chair

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 06 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6013
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. 1BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

Consultants’ time for non-clinical duties is being “relentlessly squeezed back,” Mark Porter, the BMA’s chair of council, has said.

Speaking at the conference of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin in Birmingham on Saturday 31 October, Porter said that supporting professional activity (SPA) time was under threat.

He said that the financial pressure on the NHS was being reflected in the way that doctors worked. “The supporting professional activities doctors have as part of their contracts—which is to say the quality improvement and assurance time built in to the work of senior hospital doctors—that has been relentlessly squeezed back,” he said.

Porter warned that “some shortsighted people” considered SPA time to be “unproductive time.” He said, “We all know that the majority of consultant jobs are advertised with fewer than the suggested number of supporting professional activities in contracts.”

He added that quality improvement was an essential part of a consultant’s role. “To see it being squeezed out in recent years because of the financial pressures on the NHS is one of the most distressing turnouts,” he said.