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Confirm there is no plan to ‘replace doctors’, NHSE told

The medical regulator has told NHS England to ‘directly tackle’ a perception there is a plan to replace doctors with physician associates amid an ‘intense’ debate about their future.

General Medical Council chief executive Charlie Massey wants NHS England and health systems in the devolved nations to address several issues surrounding the expansion of medical associate roles.

This follows intense debate over recent weeks, including multiple media reports of safety incidents where the involvement of physicians and anaesthesia associates has been questioned. The debate has been partially prompted by ambitions in the long-term workforce plan to increase their numbers, and the impact this would have on post-graduate medical training.

Last week almost 90% cent of Royal College of Anaesthetists members voted to pause the rollout of anaesthesia associates, after an extraordinary general meeting. This prompted NHSE leaders to stress to trusts that associates should be working within established guidelines and have appropriate supervision.

In response, Mr Massey has written to NHSE, calling for it to: “Directly tackle the perception that there is a plan for the health services to ‘replace’ doctors with PAs or AAs by convening and leading a system-wide discussion on an agreed vision for these roles.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 25 October 2023


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