Physician associates: DAUK’s Dr David Nicholl signs royal college expression of concern

DAUK’s Dr David Nicholl has joined more than 80 fellows of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in signing an expression of concern at its senior leadership.

The fellows are concerned by the response to the vote at the RCP’s Extraordinary General Meeting in March to reject the expansion of the physician associate (PA) role.

At the EGM, the fellows voted on five motions covering scope of practice, accountability, evaluation, the impact on training opportunities, and the pace and scale of the roll-out of PAs.

At the time, Dr Nicholl, a consultant neurologist who is standing for the Liberal Democrats in his home constituency of Bromsgrove at the general election, described it as ‘a landmark result’.

Now he has put his name to the statement of concern which is being sent to the RCP.

The statement says: “The policy of the Royal College of Physicians, which is to reject the programme of uncontrolled expansion of the physician associate role without a defined scope of practice, has now been established by an overwhelming vote of fellows at the Extraordinary General Meeting in March this year. This includes limiting pace and scale of roll-out to the maximum extent that the college can, and challenging proposals by the GMC to allow scope of practice to be set locally, an approach that represents a threat to patient safety.

“As Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians we are therefore concerned by the response of the senior leadership to this clear mandate. In particular, we are concerned by delays to implementation and references to accepting the view of the fellows ‘in principle’ rather than in full.

“Failure to take action now risks further weakening the College’s reputation and influence. The leadership of Royal College of Physicians will be failing patients and the profession if it chooses not to address the motions, passed by many thousands of Fellows following the EGM, in both a timely and a comprehensive fashion.”

The Doctors’ Association UK has long been calling for a pause in the expansion of physician associates.

DAUK is also opposed to regulation of PAs by the GMC over concerns about patient safety, the scope of practice, 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.

Fellows in good standing can join the call here.

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