Physician associates are a ’useful addition’ to practices, but could cost upwards of £2,400 to indemnify, a GP has revealed.
Dr Patricia Wildbore, a GP in Warwickshire, told delegates at a Pulse Live event in Liverpool yesterday that the junior PA – one of two they employ – sees around 40 patients a day and ‘couldn’t do without them’.
However, the practice has said that it is paying £2,400 to indemnify the junior PA – and she warned that this could be more for future physician associates, who may take on more clinical responsibilities and receive higher salaries.
She told delegates that since they replaced a departing part-time doctor with a fulltime PA, the practice has bucked the trend of falling income, alongside improved patient satisfaction and access.
The Government this year announced that it was going to introduce 1,000 physician associates into general practice by 2020 in a bid to alleviate GPs’ workload.
In the short term, a programme has been set up to recruit 200 physician associates from the US on salaries of £50,000 a year to work in under-doctored areas.
However, GPs have raised the issue of how much the indemnity costs will come to, which will have to be borne by practices.
Dr Wildbore told delegates: ‘I often get asked about indemnity. It costs £2,400 a year for our junior PA.’
She added: ‘At the moment in the UK they’re paid between £20,000 and £40,000, but if people are putting out adverts for £50,000 for a PA, that’s going to change. A salaried doctor doesn’t get much more than that.
Dr Wildbore also said that the locum insurance for the PA costs around £1,000 to £1,500 and isage and sex dependent.
She told Pulse that their junior PA was seeing around 40 patients a day, and any absences had a serious knock on effect that needed covering.
The practice has boosted income by having more ‘feet on the ground’, which has led to ’improving QOF attainment because we’re less stretched… and it also means we can do other things like increasing the number of research projects we run at the surgery.
The senior PA at the practice is a partner now, and has far greater experience than the majority of PAs who will be employed, Dr Wildbore said. He pays around £4,700 a year in indemnity costs but he is an ‘exceptional case’, she added.
It comes after Pulse reported that medical defence organisations increased the indemnity fees of an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) from less than £900 to £7,995 in one year, even though she had no complaints made against her.