Physician associates (PAs) will be given a seven-digit GMC registration number with an alphabetical prefix, in order to distinguish them from doctors, Sir Charlie Massey, the boss of the GMC has confirmed.
A recent letter organised by Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) expressed concerns about the upcoming regulation of medical associate professions by the General Medical Council.
In the letter, DAUK argued that the proposal to provide PAs and anaesthesia associates (AAs) a seven-digit registration number would cause “unnecessary confusion” as doctors already have a seven-digit GMC number. DAUK demanded that PAs and AAs should have “distinct GMC numbers.”
Recognising the concern, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘Over recent weeks we have been having discussions with stakeholders about the reference number that PAs and AAs will receive when they register with us.
‘I know this issue has been the focus of some concern, and it is important that we get this right.’
Sir Charlie Massey, GMC Chief Executive and Registrar
Massey said the GMC ‘considered a range of options, including looking at what other multi-professional regulators do’ and ‘explored implications for other organisations that use GMC reference numbers too, such as employers and the health services more generally’.
The GMC will confirm the exact format of the PA reference numbers in discussion with stakeholders. However, there will be no change to doctors’ GMC reference numbers which will remain a seven-digit number without a prefix.
Massey said: ‘This will ensure that we’re able to identify and minimise any potential impact on others’ systems and processes.’
The legislation needed to enable the GMC to regulate PAs and AAs was laid before Parliaments in both England and Scotland last week; GMC regulation of PAs and AAs is anticipated to take effect at the end of 2024.