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More than 80 fellows declare no confidence in RCP in physician associates fallout

More than 80 fellows declare no confidence in RCP in physician associates fallout

More than 80 fellows of the Royal College of Physicians have declared a lack of confidence in the college’s leadership over its handling of the debate around physician associates (PAs).

There have also been calls for the RCP president to resign, with five senior officers writing to the college to demand Dr Sarah Clarke’s resignation.

The fellows told to the college earlier this week that they are ‘concerned by the response of senior leadership’, following a vote condemning the ‘uncontrolled expansion’ of PAs in March.

In a statement, the fellows said that they are concerned by ‘delays to implementation’ of the policy following the vote and by ‘references to accepting the view of the Fellows “in principle” rather than in full’.

Their statement said: ‘The policy of the Royal College of Physicians, which is to reject the programme of uncontrolled expansion of the Physician Associate role without a defined scope of practice, has now been established by an overwhelming vote of Fellows at the Extraordinary General Meeting in March this year.

‘This includes limiting pace and scale of roll-out to the maximum extent that the college can, and challenging proposals by the GMC to allow scope of practice to be set locally, an approach that represents a threat to patient safety.

‘As Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians we are therefore concerned by the response of the senior leadership to this clear mandate.

‘In particular, we are concerned by delays to implementation and references to accepting the view of the Fellows ‘in principle’ rather than in full.’

They added that ‘failure to take action now’ risks ‘further weakening’ the college’s reputation and influence.

‘The leadership of Royal College of Physicians will be failing patients and the profession if it chooses not to address the motions, passed by many thousands of Fellows following the EGM, in both a timely and a comprehensive fashion,’ their statement added.

Separately, five senior officers sent a letter to the college saying they ‘have become increasingly concerned’ that the RCP president ‘has lost the confidence of the RCP membership’ and the ‘continuing negative impact’ that this is having on the college.

The letter was signed by RCP treasurer Professor Simon Bowman, vice president for education and training Dr Mumtaz Patel, Wales vice president Dr Hilary Williams, ademic vice president Professor Ramesh Arasaradnam and vice president and interim registrar Dr Omar Mustafa.

It said: ‘We have asked her to resign her role and give the our college a fresh start.

‘This is a crucial time for our profession and we need someone at the helm with the skills to advocate fiercely for physicians.’

A spokesperson for the college said: ‘The RCP confirms Council’s receipt of a letter from five senior officers. The letter, now being circulated on social media, explained the officers, four of whom are also RCP trustees, have asked the president to resign the role.

‘The RCP also acknowledges the Expression of Concern signed by RCP fellows over the weekend.

‘The RCP takes these communications extremely seriously. Urgent meetings of Council and the Board of Trustees, as the professional and charitable governance mechanisms for the RCP, are being arranged so that they can be considered as soon as is practicable.’

Earlier this year, the college apologised for its handling of the PA debate and announced an ‘independent review’ into its governance.

College leaders admitted they ‘should have been better’ at listening to members, and needed to ‘reset the organisation’ and ‘restore trust’, with Dr Clarke saying she was ‘sorry’ the college had ‘fallen short of the standards expected’.

Note: Due to a subbing error, a previous version of this article briefly suggested the fellows resigned. We apologise for the confusion.



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

David Church 11 June, 2024 6:03 pm

Not entriely unexpected.
The RCP leadership appear to have performed poorly in managing predictable expectations from RCP Members and Fellows, as well as from other Branches of Practice over which they decided to wield influence regarding appropriate consultation and communications handling.
I am afraid I do not have much sympathy for them, despite the high stress the Pandemic and Austerity is causing them.

So the bird flew away 11 June, 2024 6:45 pm

The snoozy Fellows have woken up at last,,.well it’s a start…of sorts.
This unfolding PAs story is similar to when Govt introduced HCAs to divide up and fragment RGN nurses’ traditional role. They let new HCA applicants believe they would be “the same as nurses”, got the RCN to regulate the HCAs, made nursing cheaper, and patients no longer knew whether it was an RGN or a HCA that was caring for them.
If this Govt is using the same playbook, you’d think our Political leaders in the BMA, GPCE, RCP, RCGP would be clued up about this tactic, and be ahead of it, instead of bumbling around like laggards. Makes them look complicit.

Not on your Nelly 12 June, 2024 1:30 pm

The problem remains that GPs are paying for a body that doesn’t represent them and has blood clue about on the ground working of GPs. One could just cancel their direct debit.