Physician associate regulation – public consultation outcome and legislation

Today the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has laid legislation before parliament to bring physician associates and anaesthesia associates into regulation. 

On Monday it published its response to the consultation on the draft legislation that took place earlier this year.

Following the scrutiny and passing of the legislation, the profession will be regulated under the physician associate title, and the General Medical Council (GMC) will become the future regulator.

Today’s long-awaited announcement marks a key milestone in the journey to achieving physician associate regulation, long campaigned for by both the profession and the FPA. In 2022, we launched the #RegulatePAsNow campaign to raise the importance of timely regulation and how it will allow the profession to work to its full potential and maximise the contribution physician associates make towards patient care as part of the multidisciplinary workforce.

FPA president Jamie Saunders said: ‘This is the next important step on our journey – and one that the profession has long called for. It is also an important assurance that promotes patient safety. We are all agreed that regulation is vital for both the patients we care for and our growing profession, and we at the FPA have been clear that there can be no further delays to this process.’

The legislation being laid is the first step to enable the GMC to introduce regulation for physician associates by the end of 2024. The legislation will be debated and then either approved or rejected. If it is passed, the King may then make the Anaesthesia Associates and Physician Associates Order (AAPAO) at a meeting of the Privy Council and the legislation will become law. There will then be 12 months before the law comes into force and the majority of its provisions take effect.

Now that it is laid, the GMC can start developing and consulting on the process that will bring physician associates and anaesthesia associates into regulation. The GMC expects the register for physician associates and anaesthesia associates to open by the end of 2024.

During this next stage, the FPA will continue to ensure that members are guided and supported as they prepare to become a regulated professional, that they understand the requirements to apply to join the GMC register for physician associates, and how we at the FPA will continue to support them professionally in the future.

Published December 2023