Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

On Wednesday 13th March the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is hosting an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), following a request from some RCP fellows (elected consultant doctors). The EGM covers 5 motions relating to specific areas of PA scope of practice, accountability, evaluation, training opportunities and the pace and scale of the roll-out of the PA role.

In response to the initial briefing, the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) have released a statement of their position on the EGM motions.

Here The PA+PER summarises what we know so far:

Motion 1: Scope of Practice

This motion states the importance of clarity that PAs are not doctors, nor a replacement for doctors, but instead are supplementary members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT). The FPA endorses this motion. 

Motion 2: Accountability

This motion highlights that those who prescribe on behalf of a PA remain accountable for these prescriptions, even if completed on behalf of a PA.

The FPA agree with this motion and emphasises that PAs must be aware of their legal frameworks regarding requesting prescriptions and ionising radiation from doctors. 

Motion 3: Evaluation

This calls for the RCP to generate an evaluation framework for the introduction of PAs in the workplace and their wider implications for the healthcare workforce.

The FPA supports this motion, agreeing that enhancing the evidence base around PA practice would be beneficial.

Motion 4: Training opportunities

The RCP want to assess the impact PAs are having on doctor’s training.

The FPA endorse this motion, stating that PAs, ‘where implemented correctly, support consultants, junior doctors and other healthcare professions in their clinical work and professional development’.

Motion 5: Caution in the Pace and Scale of the Roll-out of the PA role

The final motion is one not endorsed by the FPA. Some RCP fellows have ‘called on the RCP to limit the pace and scale of the roll-out until the medico-legal issues of regulation, standards and scope of practice are addressed’.

The FPA endorse four of the five motions put forward by the RCP fellows ahead of the EGM. 

Still not sure what this means for you? – Alexander our Editor-in-Chief tries to answer some of the tough questions you might have.

What happens after the meeting?

When the debate finishes at 1930, we likely won’t hear anything. There is a one-week grace period for voting by RCP fellows before any outcome is published.

What happens after the results are published?

Well, given that the FPA supports most of the motions, it likely means very little will happen immediately. However, as GMC regulation approaches, more scrutiny will be placed on our practice and evidence about the impact of PAs on the wider MDT will come out. This will likely focus on the training of doctors and how the supervisory requirements of PAs affect doctors in training.

What happens if the RCP votes to restrict the role out of PAs?

A difficult question to answer. Can anything be done to stop employers from employing PAs if they want to? After all, the outcomes from the RCP EGM are only recommendations. There is no legal requirement for employers to follow the guidance. However, the EGM might turn out trumps and agree that this motion is to be rejected.

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