Update on progress towards regulation

This week we were told that there is going to be a further delay to the legislation that will make Physician Associate (PA) a regulated profession. Although nothing has been confirmed yet, we understand that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) now expects the legislation may not be completed until summer 2023, which was the previous estimate for regulation to begin.

This is hugely disappointing news and the FPA and RCP appreciate and share the frustration of PAs. The NHS is facing a significant crisis, with an extremely high demand for care and not enough people to provide it. Indeed, this comes a week after the NHS asked staff to work more hours and delay their retirement.

PAs are just the sort of innovation the government has been calling for to help with that situation. Yet PAs are unable to fulfil their potential in terms of things like prescribing due to the lack of regulation, and it is affecting their progression and satisfaction at work.

Given that everyone involved is committed to PA becoming a regulated profession and significant progress has been made, the delays are difficult to understand. A draft of the law has now been completed and shared with the GMC for review. The GMC has published its interim standards, drafted curricula, outlined its registration processes and is now starting work on revalidation requirements.

The RCP and FPA will now work to raise the profile of this situation and call for #RegulatePAsNow, because patients and the NHS workforce deserve better. We will raise it with MPs to press home to government the urgency of maximising the workforce the NHS already has. We will promote the campaign via social media, harnessing the growing PA family and the health and care professionals they work with. At the same time, we will again urge DHSC to support those PA students who are unable to access financial support.

We will be in contact with FPA members very soon to share further details of the campaign and how they can help raise its profile.

In the meantime, we urge them to send us examples of how their inability to prescribe or order ionising radiation are hampering the efforts of their employer to deal with the NHS backlog, as well as other issues specifically held back by regulation.