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GMC must be ‘properly resourced’ to regulate physician associates

The GMC will regulate physician associates and anaesthesia associates, according to a Department of Health and Social Care announcement.

Charlie Massey, General Medical Council Chief Executive, pointed out that the costs of this regulation will not be carried by doctors.

Massey 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.”

The timetable for the move to full regulation of PAs has not been revealed.

Jeannie Watkins, President of Faculty of Physician Associates, said: “The road to regulation has been long – now we can focus on ensuring that PAs work to the full scope of their practice, with professional credibility and the corresponding confidence that will give the public.”

The lack of regulation of PAs has meant their role has been limited in hospitals.

Prof Donal O’Donoghue, Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Registrar said: “This will allow PAs to fulfil their potential and continue to support the wider NHS workforce and maintain high standards of patient care.

“Once regulation has been officially introduced, the next priority for the government should be consulting on prescribing rights for the profession.”

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh welcomed the move but warned that this is a new challenge for the GMC.

President Prof Derek Bell said: “The GMC has only ever regulated doctors, so taking on the regulation of these professions is unchartered territory.

“Care must be taken to ensure that the general public are aware of the difference between these medical professions, and we would expect that the GMC are properly resourced to regulate doctors, physician associates and anaesthesia associates separately, effectively and fairly.”

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