Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

NHS England has released a position statement on employing PAs, confirming ‘PAs are not a substitute for doctors.

NHS England states that PAs are trained to work collaboratively with other health professionals as supplementary members of a multidisciplinary team.

The letter confirms that: ‘PAs must always work within a defined scope of competence’ and that PAs ‘are not independent medical practitioners and must be supervised appropriately by doctors’. This position is firmly shared by the government, as recently reaffirmed by Minister of Health and Secondary Care, Andrew Stephenson.

The NHS England letter continues: ‘Employers must ensure that the supervision of PAs is never to the detriment of doctors, and patients must always receive clear and accurate information about who is treating them and making decisions about their care.’

To build a sustainable healthcare workforce with a robust multidisciplinary team, NHS England’s long-term workforce plan commits to doubling medical school places over the next decade. This ambitious initiative is projected to deliver an additional 60,000-74,000 doctors by 2036/37, working in tandem with a planned number of 10,000 Physician Associates.

Instead of viewing PAs as substitutes, the increased doctor numbers alongside the PA expansion demonstrate a commitment to a balanced and collaborative healthcare workforce. This strategy aims to address future workforce shortages while ensuring optimal patient care through diverse yet well-supported teams.

The initiative underscores the NHS’s understanding that a sustainable healthcare system requires more than just numbers. It necessitates fostering a collaborative environment where doctors and PAs can work together seamlessly, leveraging their unique skill sets to deliver the best possible care for patients.

As legislation governing the PA profession progresses, NHS England also confirmed that it remains committed to collaboration with stakeholders, including doctors and MAPs, to ensure all healthcare professionals are well-supported in delivering excellent patient care.

The Anaesthesia Associates and Physician Associates Order 2024 will establish the GMC as the statutory regulator for AAs and PAs, meaning they set out the standards for their practice, education, training, and operate fitness-to-practice procedures. It is to be debated in the House of Lords on 26th February 2024.

The order received approval from the House of Commons on 22nd January after being debated by the delegated legislation committee and will now go before the full chamber of the House of Lords, following concerns raised by doctors leaders.

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