On 17 February 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care (“DHSC”) published the response of their Consultation entitled ‘Regulating healthcare professionals, protecting the public’ which ran from 24 March 2021 to 16 June 2021. Seventy questions pertaining to four key areas of reform; Governance & operating framework, Education & training, Registration, and Fitness to Practise, were asked of consultees and 525 responses were received from individuals, organisations, healthcare professionals and members of the public.
The main outcome of the Consultation is that the DHSC will now begin to draft and consult on an Order giving the (“GMC”) the power to regulate Anaesthesia Associates (“AAs”) and Physician Associates (“PAs”). Currently, the GMC only regulates doctors. According to the GMC’s website, and subject to the Government’s timetable for consultation, the regulation of AAs and PAs is expected “to begin in the second half of 2024 at the earliest.”
Whilst the intention to regulate AAs and PAs has largely been well received, concern has arisen regarding PAs and AAs being regulated under modern Fitness to Practise legislation and processes whilst doctors remain subject to existing and outdated procedures. The GMC themselves have admitted that “Revised fitness to practise processes are likely to apply first to PAs and AAs, before being extended to doctors soon afterwards.”
Only time will tell how different the new regulatory regime will be for PAs and AAs, and at what point doctors will be brought under this new regulatory umbrella.