The Faculty of Physician Associates’ response to the British Medical Association’s motion

A statement released by the British Medical Association (BMA) on 16 November 2023 called for an immediate pause to the recruitment of medical associate professionals (MAPs). The statement also acknowledged that MAPs can play an important part in NHS teams and we welcomed that doctors will continue to value, respect and support the individual staff they work with.

The FPA has previously published a statement on the background to the profession in response to a request from the BMA. This addresses some of the common points of discussion in relation to the physician associate profession and we encourage organisations and individuals to read and share this.

Following a Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) public consultation earlier this year, their recently published factsheet outlines the plan to lay the legislation that will bring physician associates and anaesthesia associates into regulation by the end of 2023. This was positively received and the FPA continues to be absolutely clear that there can be no further delays to this process.

Until regulation is in place, the Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (PAMVR), which is managed and overseen by the FPA, sets the professional standards and code of conduct for physician associates, and provides protection and safety to patients. The PAMVR currently has over 4,000 registered physician associates. The FPA believes that holding a voluntary register for physician associates remains a fair and appropriate method as an interim measure to statutory regulation.

The FPA recognises that concerns are being raised and echoes the RCP’s position that we need to work together to create a better understanding of the physician associate role. We will continue to work closely with the RCP, other Royal Colleges, NHS England and devolved nations bodies to ensure that physician associates are appropriately implemented and utilised in practice.

17 November 2023

Additional information

The physician associate profession has long called for the introduction of statutory regulation. Following previous disappointing delays to the regulation of physician associates, the FPA published a policy paper ‘Physician Associates: the case for regulation' and started the #RegulatePAsNow campaign. As part of this, the FPA and RCP called for an NHS campaign to help patients understand the different types of healthcare professionals.

Over the past 12 months, the FPA has been working on additional supportive guidance to better help with the understanding of the physician associate role. Our recent ‘Physician associate title and introduction guidance for PAs, supervisors, employers and organisations’ was the first in a series of guidance documents.

Previously published guidance by the GMC outlines, in detail, the requirements for physician associates to join the GMC register as a physician associate. The recent information on physician associates and anaesthesia associates from the GMC once again highlighted the processes involved and that there is no automatic transfer from voluntary registration to the GMC register.