Staff without medical training who fill gaps in the NHS workforce must tell patients they are “not a doctor” when introducing themselves, under new guidance.
The advice has been issued to “physician associates” (PAs), a type of clinical role that requires less training than doctors receive, amid a row over their use in the NHS.
PAs complete a two-year postgraduate qualification, but no medical degree, and can diagnose and treat patients. They can work in A&E or GP surgeries.
NHS England has set out plans to expand the number of PAs to deal with staff shortages, with a workforce of 10,000 PAs wanted over the next decade. The plan has been met with opposition from doctors’ leaders, who say the growing use of PAs instead of fully qualified doctors is leading to missed diagnoses and deaths.
Guidance published by the Faculty of Physician Associates, a part of the Royal College of Physicians, said that PAs must not mislead patients into thinking they are doctors.
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Source: The Times, 6 October 2023