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Government to introduce statutory regulation for physician associates

The Government has announced it will push forward with legislation to regulate physician associates.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said this will empower PAs to ‘work to their full potential’ and ‘provide the very best care to patients’.

This follows a consultation on compulsory regulation for PAs, launched last year by then-health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

In a video posted online by the Department of Health and Social Care, Mr Hancock said:‘Thanks to a huge effort by my team, I can announce that we will take forward legislation to regulate both PAs and PAs in anaesthesia, so they can be empowered to work to their full potential and provide the very best care to patients.

‘We will develop a new legislative framework that will enable us to regulate other medical associate professional roles, as the case is made.’

The DHSC explained that the four UK governments will work to identify the preferred regulator and commence drafting the required secondary legislation.

BMA junior doctor committee chair Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya said he welcomed the announcemet.

But he added that ‘to fully ensure patient safety and provide the future workforce the NHS needs, decision makers must properly assess the education impact on other trainee junior doctors and supervisors in these environments’.

‘The BMA has been clear that we do not see the GMC as best regulator for medical associate professionals and we will be seeking further clarity on this.’

This news comes after Health Education England carried out a risk assessment of PAs last year and found that patients are at high risk of harm from physician associates. It called for them to undergo compulsory regulation.

Mr Hunt previously said that the only thing holding up legislation on regulating PAs was ‘finding a parliamentary slot’ with the Government focused on Brexit and the 2017 General Election.