Physician associates must work within ‘red lines’: RCGP

20th October 2023 by NASGP

Physician associates must work within ‘red lines’: RCGP

Physician associates (PAs) must always work under a qualified GP, Prof Kamilla Hawthorne has told GP Online.

On GP’s podcast, Prof Hawthorne told editor Emma Bower: “I’m concerned that PAs and other allied healthcare professionals should have a proper induction when they come into general practice. There should be time in that practice to supervise them properly – and I don’t think that’s happening in some cases.”

Prof Hawthorne said she had also been warned that it would taken a year for PAs to become regulated by the GMC: “The last I’ve heard from the GMC is it’s going to take over a year for that to actually happen – and that’s not quick enough for me… They need to be regulated now so that they know how to behave, they know how to introduce themselves, and they know how to make sure that the patient in front of them doesn’t think that they’re seeing a doctor, because they’re not doctors.”

Earlier this month the Faculty of Physician Associates provided guidance on PA titles and introduction, but the BMA has warned that the public finds the new role ‘highly misleading and confusing’.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse said: “It’s bad enough that regulation wasn’t in place before physician associates were given the green light, let alone that it’s going to take more than a year to implement.

“And I think PAs will be the first to agree that, like any other professional, they too need clearly defined boundaries, so that they know what’s in their control, what they’re responsible for, and what they’re not.

“And every GP needs to understand exactly their position when working alongside PAs. This is for the safety of PAs themselves, the safety of GPs supervising them, and most importantly the safety of the patients we’re trying to help.”

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