Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

NHS England has published a summary of guidance about physician associates, which supersedes the British Medical Association’s previously published set of suggestions.

The NHS is expanding its workforce and adopting a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare. This includes the use of Medical Associate Professions (MAPs) such as Physician Associates (PAs), Anaesthesia Associates (AAs), and Surgical Care Practitioners (SCPs).

Introduced in 2004, MAPs are relatively new roles within the NHS. They work alongside doctors and other healthcare professionals as part of a team. PAs are trained to support doctors, and the NHS summary confirms that PAs are not a replacements for Doctors.

Research by the National Institute for Health and Care Research has shown that PAs contribute positively to patient experience, workflow, and workload management within medical and surgical teams.

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan outlines a significant expansion of the medical workforce. This includes doubling medical school places and increasing GP training spots. The plan also aims to train 10,000 PAs and 2,000 AAs by 2036/37.

The first part of the NHS England guidance document begins by defining the role of the physician associates. The NHS defines PAs as a ‘generalist healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors’ and provides medical care as part of the multidisciplinary team.

The NHS guidance clarifies that in some cases PAs train at university alongside medical students but this does not mean they are at medical school, nor are PA students training to be a qualified doctor.

The NHS confirm that PAs must always work ‘under the supervision and ultimately direction of a named senior doctor’, and that PAs can perform some defined tasks and procedures. For example these tasks can include medical histories, examinations and managing and diagnosing illnesses under the overall supervision of a named senior doctor. The NHS document confirms that the role and scope of a physician associate are ‘determined by local need and decisions’.

The NHS have confirmed that PAs ‘have the right, and duty, to work within the qualified competence and scope of clinical practice that is agreed with their supervising senior doctor, and to accept delegated tasks or responsibilities that fall within these capabilities.’

Stick with The PA+PER for further analysis of this extensive guidance document, and what it means for Physician Associates and PA students.

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