Received from: HCSA
The NHS long-term plan includes an ambition to establish a physician associate workforce of 10,000 and increase anaesthesia associates to 2,000 by 2036.
Congress acknowledges the extremely valuable contribution associate practitioners make and supports their role within the NHS. We welcome moves to bring associate professionals under regulation and set standards for their work.
Congress notes with concern a case involving a physician associate, where a coroner concluded referral to a doctor could have prevented a death. Congress, clarity on the scope and limits of associate practitioner roles is urgently required to safeguard patients and clinicians.
In an over-stretched NHS, we see associate practitioners asked to work beyond their scope and pay grade. Where a simple procedure goes wrong, associate professionals are not equipped to respond. This is unsafe for patients and unfair for associate professionals.
Congress notes the blurring of distinction between associate professionals and doctors, with proposals to describe both groups as ‘medical professionals’. Congress believes ambiguity increases risks for patients.
Congress notes that a study showed a third of doctors-in-training described a negative effect on their training from the introduction of associates as learning opportunities became sought after by both groups.
Congress asks General Council to:
i. lobby for greater clarity on roles, responsibilities, and limits of the roles
ii. support a review of associate practitioner job titles with the aim of re-naming and lobby against use of ‘medical professionals’ as an umbrella term
iii. call for investment in training opportunities.