The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a public consultation on draft new legislation that will allow the GMC to regulate Anaesthesia Associates (AAs) and Physician Associates (PAs).

In 2019, the government asked the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates medical practitioners (doctors), to regulate AAs and PAs. The GMC is best placed to regulate AAs and PAs as they form part of the medical team and are trained to the medical model. Regulation also paves the way for broadening their scope of practice, for example requesting ionising radiation where local governance allows and, in the future, the possibility of being able to prescribe.

The Department of Health and Social Care said:

“The aim of this consultation is to seek views on the legislative provisions that will give the GMC the necessary powers and duties to regulate AAs and PAs in the UK. The legislative provisions have been drafted on the basis of the detailed policy proposals consulted on in Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public, published in March 2021, and the government response to that consultation which set out the final policy positions that had been reached based on feedback to the consultation. Those documents are a key part which set out the context and detail which underpin this consultation. This is an important milestone in the work to regulate AAs and PAs and reflects the government’s continued commitment to regulating these professionals.”

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC said:

‘We welcome the publication of the Anaesthesia Associate and Physician Associates Order consultation, which is an important step towards bringing Anaesthesia Associates and Physician Associates into regulation.

‘AAs and PAs are a vital part of the health workforce and we appreciate the value they add to the UK’s health services. Regulation will improve the quality and consistency of AA/PA education, enhance professionalism and strengthen public protection.

‘The new legislation will serve as a template for the future reform of regulatory framework for other healthcare professionals, including doctors, and will enable us to be a more effective, relevant and compassionate regulator in the years ahead.

‘It’s been nearly 40 years since the legislation which underpins how we operate was introduced, and reform is long overdue. Our current legislation is complex, overly prescriptive and slow to adapt to change.

‘We are currently developing our response to the consultation and would encourage stakeholders to take part and share their views.’

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