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NHS England Clarifies Physician Associate Roles and Supervision in Primary Care
NHS England has released a new letter, signed by senior NHS officials including the national medical director Prof Sir Stephen Powis, which emphasizes the collaborative nature of PA roles in primary care settings.

The letter states that PAs work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals, and reinforces that the work of a PA must be overseen by a supervising GP in primary care.
Practices are encouraged to review their existing processes to ensure a supportive environment with clear oversight. A key factor is the supervising GP’s confidence in the PA’s competence, based on their extensive training and development.

This ensures patients receive safe and effective care, with clear lines of communication and support for the PA.

The letter also clarifies some administrative aspects of PA roles. PAs are not able to prescribe medication, and NHS Trusts should have clear policies on access and restrictions to electronic patient records for all staff. This ensures clinicians operate within their designated scope of practice. However, it should be noted that too many restrictions to access electronic patient records could be detrimental to PA practices, such as transcriptions or recommending medication changes before being signed by a prescriber.

Transparency with patients is also a priority. The letter emphasizes that all clinical and administrative staff should be familiar with the PA role, which should be communicated to patients. This includes proper triage procedures to ensure patients are seen by the most appropriate clinician for their needs.

This statement from senior NHS leaders shows the NHS is committed to ensuring PAs are well-supported and can continue to contribute significantly to patient care within the healthcare system.

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