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The Faculty of Physician Associates is to become independent from the Royal College of Physicians.

The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) was created at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) as the professional membership body for physician associates (PAs) in the United Kingdom in 2015. The FPARCP replaced the previous independent body – the UK Association of Physician Assistants (known as UKAPA) – which was formed in 2005. UKAPA voted to change the name of their profession to physician associates in 2013 after the Department of Health and Social Care advised that being called assistants could prevent regulation.

Since becoming a faculty at the RCP in 2015, the FPA has been responsible for setting PA standards, running the accreditation examinations, and management of the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR).

The Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (MVR) sits with the FPA and holds the details of 4,500 qualified physician associates from across the UK. The MVR was established in 2010 to provide public protection and safety, set standards, and move the profession towards statutory regulation. Physician associates who are registered on the FPA MVR will be invited to apply to the GMC register for physician associates via a streamlined process.

In a recently released statement, it was confirmed that the RCP and FPA have a long-standing commitment to explore options for the future of the FPA, after statutory regulation of the PA profession comes into force. The GMC will become the regulator for PAs in December 2024, and the FPA and RCP will look to become independent within the next 12 months.

The FPA board, has discussed whether the physician associate profession should continue to be hosted by a medical royal college. Recognising recent developments, the FPA and RCP will now work together to develop a clear timeline for an independent faculty of PAs within 12 months. The FPA have pledged they will ‘work closely with its membership to ensure that PAs are involved and engaged with this process.’

The RCP has previously supported other faculties to become independent. The Royal College of Physicians hosts five other faculties: the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, the Faculty for Pharmaceutical Medicine, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine the Faculty of Public Health, and the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine.

The FPA said they ‘want to acknowledge the significant work carried out by the RCP over the past decade to build, support and develop the physician associate profession.’ The RCP has committed to working effectively with the FPA to ensure a smooth transition for the benefit of patients and the wider workforce.

Faculty of Physician Associates

We are grateful to RCP Council for agreeing to establish and host the FPA as the professional membership body for physician associates in 2015, and we would like to thank individual officers, staff, fellows and members for their advice, guidance and support over the years.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) recently held an extraordinary general meeting, following the results of a ballot of its members, which called for ‘caution’ in the rollout and development of physician associates.

Given recent pressure on the PA profession, across broadcast, print and social media outlets, many physician associates have expressed their dissatisfaction and dismay with the lack of leadership from national organisations.

The FPARCP has confirmed that their regular annual general meeting will be held virtually on Monday, April 29th, 2024. The AGM is a free, virtual event exclusively for FPA members. It presents a crucial opportunity for members to hear directly from the FPA Board and engage with the FPA Board.

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