The regulation of Anaesthesia Associates (AAs) & Physician Associates (PAs) has moved a step closer, with the opening of a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the consultation closes on the 16 of June 2021. This consultation covers many aspects of overall healthcare professional regulation and so will be of interest to all regulated healthcare professionals.

The AAA are delighted this crucial step has been taken to bring AAs & PAs into statutory regulation by the General Medical Council in 2022. The date for the regulation to formally commence is a little later than originally envisaged however, it is hoped that the additional time will allow for further development work to be undertaken by the GMC and other stakeholders. Such as more detailed regulations, rules and policies to help support AAs & PAs into regulation.

Following the current consultation, a subsequent consultation on the draft legislation to allow AAs & PAs to be formally become regulated by the GMC will be released. This subsequent consultation is expected to take place later this year, we will update members via email and on the website once the consultation on the draft legislation is opened. The timing of the second consultation later this year will ultimately decide how quickly the draft legislation can be passed by parliament, which will legally allow the GMC to register AAs & PAs.

AAs and other interested parties are assured that bringing this workforce into regulation is a priority for the DHSC and key stakeholders. The broad professional healthcare regulation changes will therefore be applied to the GMC first, to allow them to regulate AAs & PAs as soon as possible.

We are also discussing post qualification AA development and some form of increased access to medicines with the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) and the DHSC respectively. Both of these steps need to be preceded by the commencement of statutory regulation.

The RCoA released a statement on the 1st of April 2021:

Responding to the launch of the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on the regulation of healthcare professionals Professor Ravi Mahajan, President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists said:

“The Royal College of Anaesthetists welcomes the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on the regulation of healthcare professionals. We have called for the statutory regulation of Anaesthesia Associates for many years and were pleased when the General Medical Council was appointed as the regulator. We believe this consultation is an important step towards ensuring they continue to provide high quality, safe care as part of a multi-professional team, led by a consultant anaesthetist.

“As we work to reduce the elective surgery backlog, we must reimagine the anaesthetic team and Anaesthesia Associates will become even more vital. Whilst they cannot replace their medical colleagues, they can and do complement, and support, their work in service provision. By becoming integrated within the medical team, Anaesthesia Associates, will help reduce pressure on clinicians, thereby helping to tackle fatigue and burnout in the workforce and, most importantly, ensuring patients continue to receive safe, timely care.

“We will be speaking to our stakeholders and responding to the consultation on the proposed approach to introducing statutory regulation. We encourage others who will be affected by the changes to do the same.”