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A new article published on the NHS Employers website has given further details about physician associates working in the NHS.

The FAQ website published by NHS employers, details the expanding roles of Physician Associates (PAs) and Anaesthesia Associates (AAs) within the National Health Service.

NHS Employers is an organisation that acts on behalf of NHS trusts in the National Health Service in England and Wales. It was formed in 2004, is part of the NHS Confederation, and negotiates contracts with healthcare staff on behalf of the government.

The new publication outlines the duties of PAs and AAs, emphasizing their collaborative nature alongside doctors in providing patient care. It clarifies that these associates are not intended to replace doctors but rather to supplement the workforce and address staffing shortages within the NHS.

The NHS is actively expanding the number of PAs and AAs to address staffing shortages and ensure continued high-quality care for patients, under plans published in the NHS long-term workforce plan.
The FAQ document answers some questions such as the tasks PAs can carry out, the training of PA students, the identity of the PA profession, and relevant other topics.

Importantly, the article states a few key facts about Physician Associates working in secondary care settings. NHS Employers guidance is seen in collaboration with the recently published PCN DES guidance for primary care, such as clarifying that PAs can and do see patients with undifferentiated diagnoses.

The FAQ website further clarifies the roles for PAs, including developing and delivering appropriate treatment and management plans requesting and interpreting diagnostic studies, providing health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients and carrying out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

The publication of this document by NHS Employers comes amid a crisis in the PA profession and workforce, leading to some difficult relationships with PAs, employers and colleagues such as doctors.

Many PAs and PA employers should be made aware of this document, as NHS Employers is often seen as the gold standard in outlining and setting employment duties with various professions in the NHS. It could be a useful resource in helping clarify how PAs work in practice.

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