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The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is seeking input from its members to explore the evolving role of Physician Associates (PAs) within general practice.

The RCGP has launched their consultation, and claim the initiative highlights the RCGP’s commitment to ensuring optimal patient care and team dynamics.

The consultation acknowledges the unique environment of general practice compared to secondary care. Recognizing the potential for increased responsibility and less frequent supervision, the RCGP aims to gather insights from its members to ensure optimal deployment of PAs.

For physician associates, who are the only professional group who advocate working under the supervision a senior doctor to practise, this necessitates a nuanced approach to PA deployment in primary care. The RCGP recognizes this distinction and aims to gather valuable insights from GPs through an online survey administered by Research by Design (RbD).

“This consultation prioritizes patient safety and the well-being of both PAs and GPs,” states RCGP Chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne. “By understanding current practices across the UK, we can develop practical guidance to empower a thriving general practice team environment.”

The survey explores the experiences of GPs working with PAs and seeks perspectives on maximizing PA effectiveness. RCGP members will receive personalized survey links via email, with participation highly encouraged for a comprehensive picture.

It is hoped that the RCGP’s dedication to optimizing the role of PAs within general practice demonstrates its commitment to a future-proofed healthcare system that prioritizes patient well-being and a collaborative team approach.

It’s important to note that the RCGP membership may not be fully representative of all GPs; not all GP’s are members of the RCGP and will be unable to respond to the survery. Equally, some who participate in the survey may have limited or no experience working with PAs and it is important to consider factors that might influence their responses. To ensure a balanced perspective, any results or conclusions drawn from this survey need to be contextualised and seen in a wider range of issues affecting primary care professionals.

This consultation follows the RCGP’s recent shift in its stance on PA regulation, which it set out in recent statement. While the RCGP are advocating for an alternative regulatory body to oversee physician associates, the College acknowledges the current legislation has passed and expresses its commitment to working with the GMC and relevant stakeholder to address concerns for PAs working in primary care.

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