GMC appointed as regulator for physician associates and anaesthesia associates

Physician associates and anaesthesia associates work alongside doctors to assist in the management of patients.

James McKay
18 July 2019
Medical students listening sitting at desk

The General Medical Council has been appointed as the regulator for physician associates and anaesthesia associates.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has today appointed the General Medical Council (GMC) as the official regulator for physician associates and anaesthesia associates.

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Physician associates and anaesthesia associates work alongside doctors in hospitals and in GP surgeries to assist in the diagnosis and management of patients.

They are trained to perform a number of roles including; taking medical histories, performing examinations, analysing test results, and diagnosing illnesses under the direct supervision of a doctor.

The law does not currently require physician associates or anaesthesia associates to be professionally registered in order to practice.

Excellence must be maintained.

Charlie Massey, General Medical Council Chief Executive, said:We are pleased the four UK governments have made a decision about who should take this important work forward. We look forward to supporting physician associates and anaesthesia associates to maximise their contribution to the workforce, while ensuring high standards are maintained to meet the needs of patients.

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“We are now working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to determine timescales and costs. We have been clear that costs should not be borne by doctors.

“In accepting responsibility for regulating these professions, we will also make sure that excellence is maintained in education for both doctors and medical associate professionals, so that all trainees receive the time and support they need to learn and provide safe care’.

Adversely impacting doctors.

Responding to the announcement, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that the regulator should ensure the move does not adversely impact doctors.

Dr Chaand Napgaul, BMA council chair, said: “The BMA has long called for statutory regulation in protecting patients and we support the decision to regulate physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs). However, we are fundamentally opposed to the position that the GMC (General Medical Council) is the right organisation to be their regulator,”

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“Given the significant scope of work the GMC currently undertakes in overseeing doctors’ medical education and training, setting professional standards, and acting on concerns, it is vital it should not be diverted from its efforts in this regard.”

“In view of today’s announcement however, easily accessible guidance for patients, so that they can understand the different staff roles within the NHS, must now urgently be prepared to ensure they are aware which health care professional is providing their care.

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