The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA), together with the RCP, welcome the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) publishing its consultation on draft legislation to bring physician associates (PAs) into regulation today.
The FPA and RCP have long called for PAs to be regulated as part of the #RegulatePAsNow campaign. The consultation, which will run until 16 May, is the first step towards meeting the government’s ambition for PAs to be fully regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC) by the end of 2024.
The public consultation allows all stakeholders to submit their views on the ‘anaesthesia associates and physicians associates draft order 2023’. The draft order is published alongside the consultation and sets out how PAs will be brought into regulation and the overall regulatory framework that they, and eventually doctors, will work under.
As the professional body representing PAs across the UK, the FPA will support FPA members, their employers and colleagues on how to most effectively engage with the consultation.
The FPA will support members and their wider support system to understand what the draft legislation means for them, the profession and the health service, including inviting qualified and PA student members to a series of webinars. These virtual events will offer FPA members the opportunity to have their questions answered and provide further support on how to engage with the consultation.
Once the public consultation has closed on 16 May, DHSC will review all responses and finalise the draft legislation. The legislation will then be laid before the UK and Scottish Parliaments, alongside a report of the outcome of the consultation. Parliamentarians in Westminster and Holyrood will have the opportunity to consider and debate the legislation before approving or rejecting it. DHSC expects this to happen in the second half of 2023, but it is subject to parliamentary time.
After this process, the GMC will develop, consult on, and make its rules and put in place the processes for regulating AAs and PAs. The aim is to begin regulation within 12 months of the legislation being made.
The FPA has previously shared how PA regulation will allow the profession to work to its full potential, supporting to reduce waiting lists and treatment delays.
Speaking about this milestone development, FPA president Jamie Saunders said: ‘Today marks the next exciting phase in our journey to enabling our profession to work to its full potential. With the support of our members, we have already used the #RegulatePAsNow campaign to showcase how essential PAs are to the health service. We’re now ready to continue working closely with the DHSC and the GMC to enable PAs to assess, diagnose and treat patients and ultimately become regulated healthcare professionals. It is encouraging to see that the consultation documents continue to expect the GMC to be able to regulate PAs at the end of 2024. The FPA and I will continue to stress the importance of regulation being achieved in this timeline.’
RCP president Dr Sarah Clarke said: ‘Workforce continues to be the biggest challenge facing the NHS, so the consultation published today is an important step towards PAs maximising their potential. Patients benefit from the expertise of multidisciplinary teams made up of a range of healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, PAs, allied healthcare professionals, pharmacists or social care workers. The success of the NHS relies on these skilled professionals working together and this legislation will enable PAs to contribute even more as a regulated profession.
‘We hope that a timetable for when doctors will be regulated under the same regulatory model will be brought forward soon.’
PA members will receive a series of email communications detailing the next steps in the coming weeks. The FPA asks for any queries relating to the public consultation to be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.