Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

The British Medical Association (BMA) is urging the government to launch a formal investigation into the use of physician associates within the NHS, continuing its assault on the regulation of MAP professions.

The NHS England guidance reinforces the core function of PAs as collaborative members of the healthcare team, specifically trained to complement the work of doctors, not replace them.

The BMA directed its concerns towards Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, citing reports of over 30 hospitals scheduling PAs on medical rotas traditionally reserved for doctors. Professor Phil Banfield, Chair of the BMA, expressed alarm at this potential patient safety risk and called for a full inquiry to expose the extent of the practice.

“We need clear answers from Ms Atkins on how this situation arose and the measures being taken to safeguard patients,” Professor Banfield stated.

Professor Banfield emphasised the BMA’s position: “Physician Associates are valuable members of the healthcare team, but they are not doctors and should never be used as such.”

This aligns with the Faculty of Physician Associates which has previously called for more clarity around the responsibilities of Medical Associate Professions (MAPs), including PAs and anaesthesia associates. The FPA and other institutions recognise that when used appropriately, in a supportive capacity, PAs help medical teams, but remind employers of the need for correct supervision at all times.

Guidance issued by NHS England clarifies the appropriate role of PAs and emphasizes that PAs should not be used as replacements for doctors on rotas or undertake tasks like prescribing medications independently.

NHS England’s national medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, who signed the NHS England letter, clearly states that PAs are not doctors and cannot replace the role of a doctor.

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