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Physician Associates in General Practice

DDLMC recently attended a workshop on Physician Associates at BMA House on 24 November 2017, delivered by Ria Agarwal and Andy King, both qualified physician’s associates working in General Practice in Sheffield for the last four years. Andy is employed at Mosborough Health Centre, Sheffield and Ria works at Sothall Health Centre and both are also lecturers on the Sheffield Hallam Physician Associate programme.

They both gave an insightful overview of their role as part of a team of healthcare professionals working on the front line of patient care, complementing GPs, Practice Nurses and ANPs. You can listen to their podcast for further information. In their presentation, they explained that on qualification they conducted 30 minute patient appointments for the first 2 weeks, reducing to 20, 15 and 10 minute appointments over an 8 week period. They also de-briefed with a GP after every consult initially which quickly reduced to approx. 2 complex cases per month for GP opinion. They see a full spectrum of patients that a GP would normally consult and they pay their own indemnity (approx. £1300 but increasing) which their practice reimburses.

With the government ambition of 1,000 Physician Associates working in General Practice by 2020 coupled with a huge expansion to University training places, could PAs compliment your future practice workforce?

We understand the current limitations (non-registered profession and non-prescribers). The Department of Health have published a consultation on regulation which closes on 22 December 2017 to express your views on regulation of PAs and other medical associate professionals. If the profession does receive approval to become a regulatory body and it is enshrined in statute, then the ability to prescribe may well be within reach once approved from the relevant prescribing committee.

We would also like to highlight that John Alcolado (Head of Division) from University of Nottingham Medical School is in discussions with HEE to commence a PA programme in Derby for spring 2019. This is in addition to the current University programmes from Sheffield Hallam and Birmingham. There is a need for training places in the near future and if you are interested in hosting PA students, please contact me and I will link you with your local training hub.

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