DAUK renews calls for pause on NHS recruitment of physician associates

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has renewed calls for an immediate pause to the recruitment of medical associate professionals (MAPs) in the NHS, in line with recent announcements from the British Medical Association (BMA).

Co-chair Dr Matt Kneale described the increasing integration of MAPs – including physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) – in the healthcare system as “an experiment with our nation’s health”.

DAUK has been working closely with multiple stakeholders, not least the BMA, to address regulatory and safety concerns around MAPs.

It has supported a statement released by the BMA calling for an immediate halt to the recruitment of MAPs and has pledged to continue working with stakeholders on the issue.

Dr Kneale said: “The BMA is the latest stakeholder to call for a halt in the recruitment of MAPs in the UK, and we welcome and agree with their stance.

“We’re working with them on a number of aspects of the regulation and scope of PAs and will continue to do so.

“We’ve long supported an immediate pause on the recruitment of PAs until safeguards and proper regulation are in place – and it’s clear we’re not alone.

“More than 2,800 doctors signed our letter to the General Medical Council (GMC) over fears the proposed regulation of PAs will undermine standards and put patients’ safety at risk. 

“It’s evident there’s a pressing need for clear guidelines and proper supervision of PAs if we want to protect patients from danger.

“We need to halt this experiment with our nation’s health.”

DAUK will continue to work closely with people at the BMA and other stakeholders.

It is also working its way through the findings of a recent survey of frontline doctors and their concerns about the role and integration of PAs into the healthcare system.

The survey was completed by more than 650 doctors and highlighted significant worries about PAs operating beyond their competence and affecting the quality of medical training.

Dr Kneale said: “We’re using the data we collected from the survey, and other work we’re doing, to take this issue directly to MPs in Parliament.

“We want to have those conversations with the people who are able to stop this legislation going through and reopen the discussions around it.”

DAUK will also raise the issue with the GMC at a series of upcoming engagements.

Dr Kneale added: “We’re urging the GMC to work with us to address the concerns of doctors and maintain the high healthcare standards the public quite rightly demands.”