History of the PAMVR
Prior to the launch of the faculty of physician associates the UK association of physician associates (UKAPA) was formed as a professional body and incorporated as a legal entity in 2005.
The White paper, ”Trust, Assurance and Safety; The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century” (2007), set out the milestones for new professions seeking regulation/registration. In short, three stages were described in the process to statutory registration: a voluntary list, then a managed voluntary register, and finally a statutory register. That same year, UKAPA set up a voluntary list of UK-based physician associates who met the agreed competencies standard, and UKAPA has maintained the voluntary list since.
The physician associate managed voluntary register was jointly established in June 2010, by the UK Association of Physician Associates (UKAPA) in conjunction with the UK and Ireland Universities Board for Physician Associate Education (UKIUBPAE). The primary purpose of this joint venture towards statutory regulation of the physician associate profession is to provide public protection and safety, set standards for post graduate education and development and to protect the physician associate title. It also aims to provide information regarding the physician associate profession to the general public, physician associates, other healthcare professionals and employers, as well as to provide access to the physician associate register, policies and procedures.
In February 2011, the Government published a Command Paper "Enabling Excellence" which set out the coalition Government's policy on professional regulation. The paper outlined a system of "assured voluntary registration" and stated that in the future statutory regulation will only be considered where there is a "compelling case" and where "voluntary registers are not considered sufficient to manage this risk".
The faculty of physician associates firmly believes that physician associates are a compelling case and that voluntary registers are not sufficient to manage the potential risk. Based on this, the profession will continue to campaign for statutory regulation.
The physician associate managed voluntary register is held at the faculty of physician associates at the Royal College of Physicians. It was previously managed by the physician associate managed voluntary registration commission (PAMVRC), a sub-group of UKAPA, with administrative support from St George’s University of London. Work towards statutory regulation is underway. The ultimate decision regarding the eventual registering body for physician associates will be made by the government.
Until statutory regulation is achieved and a permanent registration authority is decided, the faculty of physician associates will oversee the PA MVR with the responsibility of developing, organising, and managing a voluntary register. The faculty of physician associates will ensure that no one is placed on the register or allowed to remain on the register without evidence of fitness to practice. The faculty of physician associates will have a mechanism for periodic checks to ensure that standards continue to be met. The managed voluntary register does not have force of law, so physician associates may continue to practice even if they are not registered. However, there must be a register of people who meet the agreed standards before statutory registration can be brought in.
As soon as the statutory register is in place, those on the managed voluntary register will be transferred onto the statutory register, the title physician associate will become protected and only those on the statutory register will legally be allowed to practice as a physician associate in the UK.