Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is urging NHS England (NHSE) to re-evaluate its projections for the expansion of the physician associate (PA) workforce. This call comes after a vote by RCP fellows to limit the pace and scale of the PA rollout until concerns regarding regulation, standards, and national scope of practice are addressed.

The RCP has consistently advocated for a long-term workforce planning strategy to ensure a sustainable staffing model for the NHS. This includes their past efforts to secure an increase in medical school places. However, the College emphasizes the need for sufficient postgraduate medical training opportunities alongside these new positions.

According to the RCP, a lack of clarity persists regarding how postgraduate training placements will be expanded and distributed. They further express concern about the absence of a concrete plan to address the evolving needs of patients and the training and supervision required for this influx of new doctors.

The RCP is calling for more collaborative efforts from NHSE. This includes a defined strategy for expanding medical school and postgraduate training placements, along with improved data collection on specialty workforce needs to inform future staffing projections. Additionally, the College urges NHSE to identify and address obstacles preventing the publication of detailed workforce data and to invest in a dedicated plan for specialty training based on population requirements.

The RCP emphasizes the importance of empowering medical royal colleges and specialist societies to play a more significant role in national and local workforce planning within their respective specialties. They acknowledge a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration among their members and highlight the need for a more transparent approach to implementing the LTWP to maintain physician confidence.

Following the vote by its fellows, the RCP will advocate for limitations on the expansion of the PA role. They will collaborate with national bodies such as NHS England, the General Medical Council (GMC), NHS Employers, and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to achieve this goal. The College will also be closing its Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register upon the GMC assuming its role as the regulatory body for medical associate professionals.

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