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Public 'misled' on new practitioners

Supermarket chain J Sainsbury has revealed plans to open GP surgeries in its stores. The company has held talks with ministers with a view to potentially establishing over 200 practices.

The association said it was 'deeply concerned' at Government plans to employ 3,000 such practitioners in hospitals and primary care.

Medical care practitioners are based on the US physician asssitants model and will be able under a doctor's supervision to diagnose, prescribe and offer patient education, counselling and health promotion.

Training for the role, which is aimed at science and nursing graduates, will take two years.

In response to the Government's consultation on competencies for the practitioners, the BMA said patients were being led to believe they were medically qualified.

Citing a survey on similarly-trained 'surgical care practitioners' in hospitals, the BMA said 82 per cent of the 374 patients asked believed the staff to be qualified doctors.

Dr Fay Wilson, GPC member, said: 'The name is a dodge to disguise from people that they aren't seeing a doctor. It's unfortunate because they are going to be useful in the workforce.'

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