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Medical Associate Professions
In response to the issues highlighted in the NHS Five-Year Forward View, the NHS has seen the emergence of new professional roles for non-medically qualified practitioners working within multi-professional teams as part of the continuing drive to provide safe, accessible and high quality care for patients.
In Autumn 2014 HEE commissioned a report entitled “Working towards a common education and training programme to support a route to statutory regulation for Physicians’ Assistants (Anaesthesia), Physician Associates, and Surgical Care Practitioners in England”. Subsequently, Advanced Critical Care Practitioners were included within the scope. These roles have been identified as important solutions to some of these workforce issues.
The report contained a review of the current education and training, career development and regulation of these professional groups, known collectively as Medical Associate Professions.
An Oversight Board (Medical Associate Professions Oversight Board) was established in June 2016 led by Professor Peter Kopelman and Professor Elizabeth Hughes which provides strategic oversight, expertise, leadership and governance for the HEE national work programme. The Oversight Board will be responsible for further consideration and delivery of the recommendations.
Working with partners through this Oversight Board and associated sub-groups, we have defined the role of Medical Associate Professionals and will work to provide clarity for employers, education providers and commissioners, current and prospective health professionals, patients and the public, and regulators and consider how the further development of these roles could be streamlined and supported nationally.
Definition of Medical Associate Professions
The increasing need for medical treatment and advances in clinical care requires coordinated approaches and a greater skill mix within healthcare teams, enhanced existing roles and the introduction of new roles.
The NHS has seen the emergence of new professional roles working within multi-professional teams as part of the continuing drive to provide safe, accessible and high quality care for patients. In particular, four new roles are becoming an increasingly important part of the healthcare team in primary and secondary care including mental health. Namely, Physicians’ Assistants (Anaesthesia), Physician Associates, Surgical Care Practitioners and Advanced Critical Care Practitioners.
These four roles have been grouped under the term Medical Associate Professions (MAPs), to create a common professional identity for this workforce, to support the route to regulation.
A MAP trained in their specific role provides continuity of care for patients while working under the supervision of a doctor. This releases additional time for doctors to focus on more complex patient issues and advanced care.
Each MAP profession has bespoke education and training designed to support specific types of medical care and treatment. A summary of their scope of practice is as follows:
Physician Associates: have completed a generalist medical education covering a broad medical curriculum. They are trained to perform a number of roles including: taking medical histories, performing examinations, analysing test results, managing and diagnosing illnesses under the supervision of a doctor. Physicians Associates work in both hospitals and general practices.
Advanced Critical Care Practitioners: are clinical professionals who are experienced members of the critical care team and are able to diagnose and treat your health care needs or refer you to an appropriate specialist as required. They are empowered to make high-level clinical decisions as part of intensive care consultant-led teams and will often have their own caseload.
Surgical Care Practitioners: are registered non-medical practitioners who have completed a Royal College of Surgeons accredited programme, working as a member of the surgical team, who performs surgical intervention, pre and post op care under direct supervision of the consultant surgeon
Physicians’ Assistants (Anaesthesia): have completed a post-graduate diploma which is recognised by the Royal College of Anaesthetists. PA(A)s work within an anaesthetic team under the direction and supervision of a Consultant Anaesthetist. Overall responsibility for the anaesthesia care of the patient remains with the named Consultant Anaesthetist at all times. PA(A)s perform a number of anaesthesia-related roles including: pre-and-post operative assessment, administration and maintenance of general anaesthesia, procedural sedation and are qualified in resuscitation.