The RCP and Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) have expressed disappointment that there is going to be a further delay to the legislation that will make Physician Associates (PAs) a regulated profession.
Although nothing has been confirmed yet, we understand that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) now expects that the legislation may not be completed until summer 2023, which was the previous estimate for regulation to begin.
While officials at the Department of Health and Social Care reiterated to the RCP last week that the government is committed to PA regulation, they did not provide a firm timeline.
This is hugely disappointing news and the FPA and RCP appreciate and share the frustration of PAs. The NHS is facing a significant workforce crisis, with an extremely high demand for care and not enough people to provide it. Indeed, this comes a week after the NHS asked staff to work more hours and delay their retirement.
PAs are just the sort of innovation the government has been calling for to help with that situation. Yet PAs are unable to fulfil their potential in terms of aspects like prescribing due to the lack of regulation. We also hear that lack of regulation is affecting their progression and satisfaction at work.
Given that everyone involved agrees PAs should become a regulated profession, the delays to realising the benefits of this are difficult to understand. The RCP and FPA will now work to raise the profile of this situation and campaign for #RegulatePAsNow, because patients and the NHS workforce deserve better.