The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that physician associates and anaesthesia associates will now be regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC), following agreement from all four UK Governments.
Announcing the decision yesterday (18 July), Charlie Massey, GMC chief executive said: “We are pleased the four UK governments have made a decision about who should take this important work forward. We look forward to supporting physician associates and anaesthesia associates to maximise their contribution to the workforce, while ensuring high standards are maintained to meet the needs of patients.”
He stressed, however, that the costs associated with the new duties must not be borne by doctors. “We are now working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to determine timescales and costs,” he said.
“In accepting responsibility for regulating these professions, we will also make sure that excellence is maintained in education for both doctors and medical associate professionals, so that all trainees receive the time and support they need to learn and provide safe care,” the chief executive said.
Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said the college welcomes the decision to regulate physician associates and anaesthesia associates, saying the move “recognises the significant roles they play in healthcare”.
However, he added: “The GMC has only ever regulated doctors, so taking on the regulation of these professions is unchartered territory. Care must be taken to ensure that the general public are aware of the difference between these medical professions, and we would expect that the GMC are properly resourced to regulate doctors, physician associates and anaesthesia associates separately, effectively and fairly.”