Co-chair responds to Commons approval of PA legislation

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes has responded to the approval without debate in the House of Commons of the draft Anaesthesia Associates (AAs) and Physician Associates (PAs) order 2024.

Ms Fernandes said: “DAUK is deeply disappointed and concerned at the approval of this hugely controversial piece of legislation without scrutiny or debate.

“It will blur the roles between doctors and non-doctors, which presents a significant risk to patient safety.

“DAUK has long raised our concerns around the potentially damaging regulation of PAs and AAs by the General Medical Council (GMC).

“We’ve always said that regulation is more than just a GMC number, it is about safeguarding the public.

“There have been many reported instances where PAs, operating beyond their competencies, have been implicated in patient harm and, tragically in some cases, fatalities.

“Reports of never events – episodes of patient harm that should never occur –  reported in Scotland appear disproportionately high for PA/AAs compared to doctors, although we appreciate the background to a ‘never event’ is often multifactorial.

“While doctors meet high standards through rigorous exams, assessments, and reviews, ensuring a high bar for patient care, for PAs and AAs there are no such standards as of yet.

“While we understand a consultation process is underway to determine how their competency might or even could be measured and regulated going forward, it seems bizarre that this piece of legislation, which will fundamentally change patient care in our NHS, has already been passed.

“The vast majority of the public, those that the GMC protect, remain unaware, so to push it through on the nod feels deeply undemocratic.

“We’ll continue to oppose it as it moves through to the House of Lords and urge our members to continue to make their voices heard.”