A BMA survey had found that doctors report that working with physician and anaesthesia associates increases workload.
Over half (55%) report increased workload compared with 21% who reported that workload decreased with associates’ help. Some 21% report that PAs and AAs increase their workload ‘a lot’.
Prof Phil Banfield, BMA chair of council, said: “NHS England tells us that ‘Physician Associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients,’ supposedly giving doctors more time to deliver the high-quality care only they can give. But the reality appears to be the exact opposite – too many doctors are telling us that working with PAs is instead draining their time and energy.”
On LocumDeck, GPs set their terms and conditions – including their willingness to work with PAs – before they are booked. Once booked, practice managers are bound by the GPs’ own terms on supervising PAs and signing PA prescriptions.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, GP and NASGP chair, said: “These findings reveal a nuanced picture of the role of physician associates within the NHS. While initially anticipated to reduce doctors’ workload, this survey suggests that the opposite may have occurred. This increase, possibly due to the necessity for greater clinical supervision and oversight, underscores a complex dynamic. However, it’s also possible that physician associates are facilitating access to care for a larger patient population, highlighting their valuable contribution to healthcare delivery.
“Regardless of the interpretation, the solution converges on a common point: the need for adequate GP staffing levels to provide adequate supervision of these roles. Engaging more GPs for both direct patient care and the supervision of physician associates is crucial. This approach not only supports the safe and effective integration of physician associates into healthcare teams but also addresses potential workforce burnout, ensuring that the NHS remains resilient in the face of evolving healthcare demands.”