I am delighted to be able to able to confirm that the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock has confirmed that Physicians’ Assistants (Anaesthesia) will be statutorily regulated!
I’d like to thank the many members of the APAA committee who have worked hard to reach this point, the support from the Royal College of Anaesthetists has also been crucial.
The whole anaesthesia community has been calling for regulation of PA(A)s for a number of years, as a crucial step in allowing PA(A)s to fully develop. Many departments have enhanced and extended the roles of their PA(A)s, with local governance, with no reported safety concerns. Statutory regulation will allow better governance and accountability of extending scope of practice at a national level.
Many departments have already realised the benefits the PA(A) role can bring to their workforce, ensuring high quality, safe care for their patients, as part of the anaesthetic team. This announcement will allow those departments to use the specialist skills and knowledge of PA(A)s even more effectively in the future. I hope those yet to employ PA(A)s are encouraged to invest in the future of their departments. PA(A)s are not the only solution to workforce shortages in anaesthesia, but can deliver many services as part of the medical team, ensuring patients receive the care they need, by a trained practitioner.
There is a process ahead before there is a formal register, which will take a minimum of two years. I hope that PA(A)s will fully engage in the next steps and feedback where appropriate. Questions such as protected title and which regulator are still to be confirmed – this information I hope will become available over the next few weeks.
We look forward to working with the Department of Health and Social Care, Health Education England, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and other key stakeholders in the coming weeks and months.
Chairman of the APAA