The future of the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians

The Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) is the professional membership body for physician associates (PAs) in the UK. Hosted by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) since 2015, the FPA sets professional standards for physician associates, advises and liaises with other bodies on matters relating to physician associates and communicates on matters affecting the work of physician associates. The RCP and FPA have a long-standing commitment to explore options for the future of the FPA post-regulation.

The FPA Board recently discussed whether the physician associate profession should continue to be hosted by a medical royal college. In recognition of recent developments, the FPA and RCP will now work together to develop a clear timeline for an independent faculty of PAs within 12 months. The FPA will work closely with its membership to ensure that PAs are involved and engaged with this process.

The RCP has previously supported other faculties to become independent and is committed to working effectively with the FPA to ensure a smooth transition for the benefit of patients and the wider workforce. Balancing the needs of doctors and PAs will be crucial as we develop a collaborative multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach.

We want to acknowledge the significant work carried out by the RCP over the past decade to build, support and develop the physician associate profession. We are grateful to RCP Council for agreeing to establish and host the FPA as the professional membership body for physician associates in 2015, and would like to thank individual officers, staff, fellows and members for their advice, guidance and support over the years.

The FPA remains committed to working with and supporting its members, patients, doctors and the wider MDT. We hope that as an independent faculty, we can continue to work together in providing the best possible care for the patients we serve.

Notes to editors – Managed Voluntary Register (MVR) and statutory regulation

The Physician Associate Managed Voluntary Register (MVR) sits with the FPA and holds the details of 4,500 qualified physician associates from across the UK. The MVR was established in 2010 to provide public protection and safety, set standards, and move the profession towards statutory regulation.

Registration on the MVR provides employers, supervisors, other doctors and patients with the reassurance that a PA has met the core competencies at the point of qualification. The FPA regularly writes to employers for them to check the ongoing registration status of a PA to ensure they remain listed on the MVR and in good standing with the FPA, demonstrating ongoing compliance with our standards, including agreeing to the FPA code of conduct and continuing professional development (CPD) guidance.

The journey to achieve statutory regulation for physician associates is almost complete, with the Anaesthesia Associates and Physician Associates Order 2024 becoming law on 13 March 2024. The General Medical Council (GMC) is expected to open a register for physician associates in December 2024.

Physician associates who are registered on the FPA MVR will be invited to apply to the GMC register for physician associates via a streamlined process. Verified information about a physician associate’s qualification will be pre-populated and will include PA national exam (PANE) pass information. Further information about the process and requirements to register and join the GMC register for physician associates can be found on the GMC website.

April 2024