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RCP president to step down over physician associates fallout

RCP president to step down over physician associates fallout

The president of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) will step down following pressure from senior college officers and fellows over the college’s handling of the physician associate (PA) debate.

Yesterday Dr Sarah Clarke informed the RCP Council of her intention to ‘step aside’ from the role of president ‘following a challenging time for the college’.

She will meet with the Board of Trustees today (20 June) and will step down as president in September following a transition period.

It comes after more than 80 RCP fellows declared a lack of confidence in the college’s leadership over its handling of the PA debate, and five senior officers writing to the college to demand Dr Sarah Clarke’s resignation.

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

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

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

Dr Clarke was previously clinical vice president of the RCP and past president of the British Cardiovascular Society. She is an interventional cardiologist at Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge where she is also clinical director for strategic development.

In a statement, the college said: ‘As only the fourth ever female president of the RCP, Dr Clarke oversaw the development and launch of Medical care: driving change, the RCP’s online hub of improvement resources.

‘During her leadership of the college, the RCP has secured a number of key political achievements, including the NHS England Long Term Workforce Plan with its commitment to double the number of medical school places to 15,000 and increase postgraduate training places.

‘She has supported the trainees committee in their efforts to improve the working environment for early career doctors and last year, hosted a roundtable with senior female leaders on tackling misogyny in medicine.’

This week the shadow health secretary said that GP concerns around the role of physician associates (PAs) need to be ‘seriously’ addressed.

And Pulse’s major investigation on the rise of PAs found evidence that practices are in part recruiting PAs instead of GPs, with cost being the driving factor.