In July 2019, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), with the support of the four UK governments, appointed the General Medical Council (GMC) to regulate physician associates and anaesthesia associates. Regulation is getting ever closer, but what are the next steps in the process?
Regulation is on the way
The legislation needed to enable the GMC to regulate PAs and AAs was laid before Parliaments in both England and Scotland in December 2023. After that, the GMC will need to carry out its own consultation on the procedural rules for regulation. Taking those stages into account, the start date for regulation is expected to be towards the end of 2024. To prepare for regulation, a team at the GMC have been designing the processes and policies needed for PAs to become members of a regulated profession.
We’re pleased to support the development of regulation for these valuable professionals, recognising the important role they play in the medical workforce. Regulation will help to increase the contribution PAs and AAs can make to UK healthcare, while keeping patients safe.
Una Lane, the GMC’s Director of Registration and Revalidation
PAs have shaped every step
Work is well advanced on the design of processes for registration, education, standards, and fitness to practice, and it is all being done in collaboration with PAs and other stakeholders. One of the first steps the GMC took was to establish an advisory group with members including representatives of the Faculty of PAs, the Association of Anaesthesia Associates, the PA Schools Council, NHS Employers, the four UK health departments and the British Medical Association. The GMC team is also out and about, speaking at events and meeting PAs across the UK, and has created a community of interest, that anyone can join, for updates about regulation and opportunities to help shape it.
Get to know your future professional standards
PAs have been included in the development of all the major milestones to date, most recently the publication of the GMC’s Good medical practice 2024. Many of you might have taken part in the consultation or focus groups that helped shape the updated standards. They set out, at a high level, the expected standards of care and professional behaviour of GMC registrants. They’ll come into effect for doctors in late January 2024 and for PAs from the start of regulation once they join the register. These replace the interim standards for PAs and AAs that were published in 2021 to help prepare PAs to be regulated professionals.
There’s more to do – how to get involved
There are still areas of regulation to be developed and the GMC will be holding its own consultation in spring next year on the rules that have to sit under the new legislation. It will be looking for the views of PAs so if you want to join community of interest and hear about opportunities to have your say, or if you’d just like to read more about the plans for regulation, do get involved.