Response To The Department Of Health’s (DH) Consultation On The Regulation Of Medical Associates Professions (MAPs)

The APA(A) welcomes the Department of Health’s decision to consult on the regulation of Medical Associates Professions (MAPs), which includes Physicians’ Assistants (Anaesthesia) [PA(A)].

However, the Department of Health (DH) are at risk of missing a prime opportunity to regulate all 4 MAPs, which in addition to Physicians’ Assistants (Anaesthesia), includes; Physician Associates, Advanced Critical Care Practitioner’s and Surgical Care Practitioner’s.  The MAP roles with statutory regulation will be able to further enhance access to safe healthcare as part of medical teams, to ensure patients receive the right care at the right time.

PA(A)s work in hospitals across the United Kingdom in large teaching hospitals and smaller District Generals.  Anaesthetists provide services to the majority of hospital patients.  PA(A)s work as part of the anaesthetic team, under consultant anaesthetist supervision, to provide services to patients in time critical, high risk settings in hospitals across the United Kingdom.  PA(A)s care for patients under general anaesthesia whilst patients are on ventilators, carefully monitoring patient vital signs to ensure they are safe at all times.  PA(A)s also work in a wide range of areas, carrying out roles traditionally, only undertaken by regulated healthcare professionals.  Roles can include; preoperative assessment, spinal anaesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, invasive line insertion, part of on-call resuscitation teams team.

As PA(A) numbers continue to increase and the role introduced to new Trusts every year, many more patients will be cared for by PA(A)s.  The level of supervision and clinical autonomy can vary greatly depending on the particular clinical circumstances.  Local and voluntary regulation will not provide the level of assurance for patient safety required and demanded from other healthcare professionals carrying out similar functions in healthcare.

I would ask the DH to accept the advice of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, the Academy of Royal Colleges and indeed the Association of Physicians’ Assistant (Anaesthesia) in addition to the then named Health Professions Council who all consider that PA(A) statutory regulation is both proportionate and necessary.

All stakeholders; clinicians, managers and patients are encouraged to respond to the public consultation on the above links, to provide evidence to the Department of Health, for the statutory regulation of all MAPs, including PA(A)s.

Irfan Mehmood

Chairman of the Association of Physicians’ Assistants (Anaesthesia)

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