Physician associates: DAUK calls for motion of regret

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has called for a motion of regret on the legislation for the regulation of physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) when it goes before the House of Lords.

The Lords are set to debate the legislation which will allow the General Medical Council (GMC) to regulate PAs and AAs.

Co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes has produced a paper ahead of the discussion which sets out DAUK’s opposition to the legislation and the regulation of PAs and AAs by the GMC.

Ms Fernandes said: “This piece of legislation will detrimentally change patient care in our NHS, and the vast majority of the public are unaware.

“We urge the government to scrutinise healthcare policy in the same way we scrutinise new medicines or treatments before rolling them out.”

Ms Fernandes has shared the paper with Lord Shrewsbury.

Head and shoulders image of DAUK co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes

DAUK co-chair Ms Helen Fernandes

According to the UK Parliament website, when the Lords considers a statutory instrument, any member can introduce a motion to regret it. The motion usually gives specific reasons for the regret.

Even if agreed, the motion cannot stop or amend the statutory instrument, but gives members an opportunity to put on record their dissent.

In her paper, Ms Fernandes questions the fitness of the GMC model of regulation for non-doctor roles and highlights the absence of detailed standards or competencies for PAs and AAs. 

She raises concerns about the scope of practice of PAs and AAs, concerns that doctors are responsible in law for PA care, and concerns that tasks and procedures that doctors in training need to practice repeatedly are being reallocated to PAs and AAs.

She said: “Lastly, and of perhaps the highest improtance, is the plain fact, reported by doctors and patients alike, that patients and the wider public are not aware of the difference between these roles, with many thinking they are seeing a doctor when they are not.

“Patients and families should know the capability of those who meet and treat them.

“In the midst of a workforce crisis, these professionals seem to provide a solution to boost staff numbers. We recognise the skills and contributions of Pas and AAs within our health service, but it must not be at the expense of fully trained doctors.

“Careful evaluation of the role of PAs and AAs is needed to ensure clinical effectiveness without negative impacts on patient safety, quality of care and health outcomes.

“We need clear standards around training and supervision, and a clear regulatory structure, provided by a non-GMC regulator to avoid blurring lines between PAs, AAs and doctors.

“We also need robust qualitative and quantitative data for outcomes from these new professional roles.

“Blurring the roles between doctors and non-doctors, presents the most significant risk to patient safety.”

Read the paper in full by clicking here.