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BMA calls for inquiry into PAs replacing doctors on rotas

The BMA has called for an independent inquiry into the use of physician associates (PAs) on medical rotas in place of doctors.

The union said that health secretary Victoria Atkins must launch the investigation ‘to get to the bottom of the scale’ of the issue across the NHS, as doctors have been reporting instances where gaps in medical rotas are being filled by PAs.  

This is happening on top of NHS England ‘investing heavily’ in the use of PAs in primary care, ‘instead of qualified experienced doctors’, the BMA added.

On Friday The Telegraph reported  on leaked rotas from more than 30 hospitals showing physician associates taking on doctors’ shifts.

This coincided with new NHS England guidance to ‘emphasise that PAs are not substitutes for doctors’, as they are ‘supplementary members’ of the team and they ‘should not be used as replacements for doctors on a rota’.

BMA chair of council Professor Philip Banfield said: ‘We know from our members’ experiences that hospitals are putting physician assistants on medical rotas, in place of medically qualified doctors.

‘This is on top of NHS England investing heavily in the use of physician associates in primary care, instead of qualified experienced doctors.

"In our view, Victoria Atkins now has a duty to patients and a duty to medically qualified staff – doctors – to establish how widespread this practice is and more importantly, stop it."

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Source: Pulse, 18 March 2024

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