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Article United Kingdom: Legislation Introduced to Regulate Physicians' Associates and Anesthesia Associates

On December 12, 2023, the United Kingdom’s (U.K.’s) minister for health and secondary care made a written statement in Parliament announcing the government’s intention to introduce regulations that would provide the General Medical Council (GMC) with the power to regulate physicians’ associates (PA) and anesthesia associates (AA). PAs and AAs began functioning in the National Health Service (NHS) in 2002 and 2004, respectively, to support doctors.

The Anaesthesia Associates and Physician Associates Order, which was laid before the U.K. Parliament and the Scottish Parliament in draft form under section 62(1) of the Health Act 1999 to be approved by a resolution, would provide the GMC with responsibility for and oversight of PAs and AAs. The draft order would provide a high-level framework, giving the GMC the flexibility to set the details of the regulatory procedures in its rules and allow “it to take a holistic approach to education, training and standards.” The draft order encompasses four areas of regulation:

  • Governance and operating framework.
  • Education and training.
  • Registration.
  • Fitness to practice.

The order would provide the GMC with 12 months to formulate its regulatory procedures and a two-year transition period after that.

The announcement follows a public consultation about the regulation of these careers, which received a widely positive response. The minister for health and secondary care stated that the introduction of a “standardised framework of governance and assurance for clinical practice and professional conduct … will enable these roles to make a greater contribution to patient care.” The government response to the consultation noted that the regulation of AAs and PAs by the GMC would “enable a more coherent and coordinated approach to regulation and make it easier for employers, patients and the public to understand the relationship between the roles.”

The training and oversight of PAs is currently undertaken by the Faculty of Physician Associates at the Royal College of Physicians, which administers a Managed Voluntary Register. The Royal College of Anaesthetists holds a Managed Voluntary Register of qualified AAs. The Royal College of Anaesthetists has advised all NHS Trusts to hire only AAs whose names are listed on the voluntary register.

Clare Feikert-Ahalt, Law Library of Congress
February 26, 2024

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Chicago citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. United Kingdom: Legislation Introduced to Regulate Physicians' Associates and Anesthesia Associates. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-25/united-kingdom-legislation-introduced-to-regulate-physicians-associates-and-anesthesia-associates/.

APA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, C. (2024) United Kingdom: Legislation Introduced to Regulate Physicians' Associates and Anesthesia Associates. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-25/united-kingdom-legislation-introduced-to-regulate-physicians-associates-and-anesthesia-associates/.

MLA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. United Kingdom: Legislation Introduced to Regulate Physicians' Associates and Anesthesia Associates. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-02-25/united-kingdom-legislation-introduced-to-regulate-physicians-associates-and-anesthesia-associates/>.