Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and social care in England, has updated its guidance on the role of Physician Associates (PAs) within general practice.

The CQC is a non-departmental public body responsible for monitoring all health and social care services in England. This includes making sure services are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

The CQC confirms that PAs can work independently and make decisions, but do so under the supervision of a doctor. This collaborative approach ensures patients receive high-quality care.

The CQC says that governance obligations for physician associates are the same as for other staff employed (or deployed) in the practice. They apply where roles involve independent complex clinical decision-making. The CQC says that Organisations should identify an individual at GP partnership/integrated care board level who is responsible for the supervision and oversight of PAs.

The CQC says that practices should also make sure that:

  • the supervisor is easily accessible for PAs
  • staff know who the supervising member of staff is
  • staff have enough time to supervise.

The CQC recognise that the amount of supervision needed for a PA depends on the person’s knowledge, skills, and experience.

The physician associate is responsible for their own actions and decisions, the CQC confirmed. However, the consultant/GP is the clinician who is ultimately responsible for the patient.

The CQC also confirm that physician associates can recommend prescriptions for signing by a GP, but the prescriber remains responsible and accountable for the prescription they issue. They need to be assured of the appropriateness of the consultation and the medicine being prescribed.

The CQC emphasizes the importance of employers verifying a PA’s registration status and ensuring they fulfill the mandatory 50 hours of annual continuing professional development (CPD). This CPD requirement ensures PAs stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field.

Overall, the CQC’s guidance underscores the importance of ensuring physician associate competence through registration, CPD, and appropriate supervision.

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