An update on the UK government’s timetable for regulation of PAs and AAs

Clare Barton, Assistant Director of Medical Associate Professionals, shares an update on the UK government's timetable for regulation.

At the GMC, our role is to support the medical professionals we regulate to provide good patient care – which includes supporting the development of a sustainable medical workforce. We’re pressing on with our preparations to regulate physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs). And we’re working closely with the Faculty of Physician Associates and Association of Anaesthesia Associates, as we all prepare for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to introduce the legislation needed for regulation to begin.

The Department has recently let us know it has revised the timeline for introducing this legislation. This means the earliest possible start date for regulation will now be the second half of 2024.

We understand that PAs and AAs will be disappointed at this news. But we welcome the UK government’s commitment to introduce regulation of these important professions. Their next step, a consultation on the draft legislation, is expected to take place in autumn this year. After that consultation concludes, we understand that Ministers expect to lay the final legislation in parliament in the second half of 2023. It is only at that point that we’ll be able to consult on the detailed rules for how our new regulatory powers will operate; and finalise how we’ll introduce these in practice. We aim to complete our process within 12 months of the legislation being laid.

We continue to do everything possible to support the Department to develop and consult on the legislation to ensure it delivers on shared ambitions for flexible and proportionate regulation. We’re looking forward to adding PAs and AAs to our register and appreciate the pivotal role they play across the health services.

Wider reform of regulation

We also continue to speak to the Department about its approach to the legislation that underpins how we regulate doctors. As well as updating the timeline, the Department has decided that the legislation used to introduce reforms for doctors will be separated from that introducing regulation for PAs and AAs. Although we appreciate this is intended to minimise further delay, we’re disappointed that the outdated and inefficient legislation is not being reformed at the same time. We remain ready to progress this work as soon as the UK government can take it forward, to ensure that patients and all our registrants are able to benefit from more flexible, responsive and compassionate regulation.

We’ll use our Community of Interest for PA and AA regulation newsletter to keep in touch, and let you know about the Department’s – and our own – progress. And we’ll ensure our website has the latest information for:

  • practising PAs and AAs
  • supervisors and employers
  • student PAs and AAs and their educators
  • patients.

Helping to shape future regulation

Last year, we passed some important milestones on the road to regulating PAs and AAs. We published future professional standards, along with learning materials to help PAs, AAs and supervising doctors apply them to their practice. And we worked with colleges towards updated curricula for PAs and AAs, which will be published in the autumn. We’re making good progress – and there’s more to come - we’ll soon seek your views on our approach to revalidation.