‘Regulation of Physician Associates should provide reassurance for GPs and patients’, says College
Publication date: 11 December 2023
College Chair, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, responds to the Department for Health and Social Care’s plans to introduce legislation for the regulation of Physician Associates.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We welcome the government’s plans to introduce legislation for the regulation of Physician Associates (PAs). This is something that the College has been calling for since 2017 and, if correctly implemented, it should provide reassurance to patients, GPs and PAs alike that the care being delivered is as safe as it possibly can be.
“The College has long maintained that PAs have a valuable role to play in general practice as members of the multidisciplinary team who assist GPs in delivering high-quality, integrated care to their patients. PAs can only work under the supervision of a doctor, and in general practice that should be a fully qualified GP.
“However, there have been some recent notable cases where patients have been unaware that the medical professional treating them was a Physician Associate and not a GP. This legislation must recognise the distinction between PAs and GPs, making it clear that these are ‘additional’ roles, not ‘substitute’ GPs.
“This legislation is a positive step, but it is crucial that rapid action is taken to implement regulation once the legislation has been introduced. Other aspects of the role of PAs in primary care also still need to be addressed. Ensuring that general practice has adequate premises and that there are enough fully qualified GPs to provide appropriate supervision for PAs remain pressing issues.
“The biggest solution to the workload and workforce issues in general practice is more GPs, and our recently launched manifesto for the general election outlines seven commitments that we want all the major political parties to make to safeguard the future of general practice and ensure that our patients are able to receive timely and appropriate care when they need it.”
RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659
Notes to editors
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.