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PAs could get prescribing rights as Government launches regulation consultation

PAs could get prescribing rights as Government launches regulation consultation

The Government has launched a long-awaited consultation to expand the role of physician associates (PAs), with proposals to ‘relieve pressure on GPs and improve access to services.’

A new consultation was launched today seeking views on draft legislation to provide the GMC with powers to regulate PAs and anaesthesia associates for the first time.

Ministers said that opportunities could be explored for PAs to help relieve pressure on GPs, including extending prescribing responsibilities to PAs, to free up clinician time so they can focus on seeing patients and boosting the number of appointments.

The Government said that these professions already support doctors and surgeons in providing medical care and this regulation will ‘enable them to play an increasingly important part’ in supporting the workforce to deliver medical care.

Health secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘I want all parts of modern, multi-skilled healthcare teams to able to work to their full potential.

‘That’s why we’re modernising out of date regulatory legislation to harness the full potential of roles such as physician and anaesthesia associates to provide the highest quality care for patients and relieve pressure on the NHS.

‘This could also open the door to expanding prescribing powers, helping free up GPs, improve access to appointments and reduce pressure on hospitals.’

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The Government’s ambition is to increase training places for PAs and AAs, with 1,000 PAs being trained each year from 2023/24 and 250 AAs being trained each year from 2024/25.

The consultation will be open until 11:45pm on 16 May, with healthcare professionals, organisations and members of the public are encouraged to respond.

PAs are part of ARRS and can perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and develop treatment management plans, under the supervision of doctors.

AAs generally work in hospitals and emergency environments and provide care for patients before, during and after their operation or procedure, including taking a history, performing physical examinations, and using diagnostic data to identify relevant problems.

Meanwhile, GPs are still waiting for the Government to launch an expected consultation on regulation reform that should enable swifter resolution of fitness-to-practise investigations, as well as quashing the GMC’s powers to appeal FTP decisions. 

What does the consultation include?

The wider proposals also include:

  • Streamlining the system to allow regulatory bodies to update and change their day-to-day regulatory processes and standards, without needing the approval of Parliament or the Privy Council, allowing them to respond to changes quickly.
  • Modernising and improving registration and regulatory processes to enable professions to respond to emerging healthcare challenges more quickly and ensure patients can continue accessing high quality services, confident they are provided by practitioners who are fit to practice. For example, during the Covid pandemic, regulators wanted to introduce remote fitness to practise hearings to boost workforce numbers, but this required to enable regulators to open emergency registers, slowing down the process.
  • Ensuring consistent powers for each of the healthcare professional regulators as there is currently variation in the powers regulators have available. This means regulators across different professions will be working with similar powers, presenting opportunities for collaboration and sharing of best practice, ultimately aimed at improving patient safety and outcomes.


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Michael Green 20 February, 2023 4:53 pm

Why not just put all the medicines on a shelf and let anyone take whatever they think they need. After all, they’ve done their own research, and I know their body best.

Sujoy Biswas 20 February, 2023 8:12 pm

@Michael 4:53pm
This about equates to the same thing.

David Mummery 21 February, 2023 10:18 am

This could be the end of General Practice as we know it : ie. no need to go to medical school and no need for GPs (in the governments eyes at least )

Darren Tymens 21 February, 2023 10:28 am

It is deregulation of the profession under the guise of ‘helping GPs’.
Why go and see a GP, who might explain things and say ‘no’ to a prescription because it is not the right thing to do, when instead you can see a PA who will just say ‘yes’.
See also: private ADHD clinics.

Reply moderated
David jenkins 21 February, 2023 10:31 am

i have no problem with letting noctors dish out pills – so long as THEIR name is on the negligence writ when it arrives, and you don’t expect me to bail them out, or carry the can for their cocks-up.

how long before that simple urti turns out to be a ca bronchus, not diagnosed for several months because “a very knowledgeable PA” didn’t ask the right questions, or notice finger clubbing ?

Reply moderated
Finola ONeill 21 February, 2023 12:37 pm

Whenever I discuss clinical scenarios with Dave, my husband and an electrician, he seems very adept at diagnosing issues and what may be needed.
Why limit ourselves?
Maybe some of these people we are being told we can’t sign off any more because we have worker shortages should have prescribing rights and can help with backlogs and these retired people who are frittering their time away playing golf and mothers and parents selfishly looking after their children and not filling all the workforce lost through Brexit and sickness while waiting on the long elective lists.
2 year wait for dermatology in some areas.
Maybe beauticians can have prescribing rights and fill in.
I think it is time to stop limiting ourselves here.

Turn out The Lights 21 February, 2023 3:18 pm

Sell eveything over the counter for the right price afterall dr Google and the customer are always right; job solved GPs redundant.

A Non 21 February, 2023 4:12 pm

Totally agree. We don’t need Drs. Let everybody help themselves to whatever they want. We have google now.

Anonymous 21 February, 2023 7:36 pm

A pharmacist has recently seen my friend for a minor ailment. They googled their symptoms in front of them, no shame, no attempt to hide their incompetence. Advised as per Google to go home and take paracetamol. Madness.

Slobber Dog 21 February, 2023 10:44 pm

‘Releive pressure’ is a misprint.
Should read ’ replace’

Samir Shah 21 February, 2023 11:38 pm

Relieve pressure? Complete b***s*’t. They have no interest in helping the profession. They just want to mess everything up, then bring in American friends at a huge price .

Centreground Centreground 22 February, 2023 2:56 pm

As the NHS declines into the embarrassing cheap low quality service we currently see, it will not be long before our postal workers will also get prescribing rights and can also continue with their daily home visits combining both aspects!

David OHagan 22 February, 2023 5:07 pm

no faith in the ‘consultation’ … the word ‘sham’ might be a useful prefix

Anonymous 27 February, 2023 7:01 am

Please fill in the consultation online. This is the only way to oppose this madness.
And if it doesn’t work, at least your conscience will be fine.