Ethical and professional standards

Once registered with us, physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) will need to follow the standards set out in our guidance. This includes the professional and ethical knowledge, skills and behaviours expected when working in the UK. We’ve published an interim version of the guidance ahead of the start of regulation .

Every patient, practice setting, and situation is different. So our guidance is set out in the form of high-level principles. PAs and AAs will be expected to use their professional judgement to apply the principles in a way that best serves their patient.

We collaborated with frontline medical professionals to create case studies covering the ethical and professional issues we’re most often asked about. They’re designed to help PAs or AAs put our guidance into practice.

The guidance is interim because we are undertaking a comprehensive review of our existing, core guidance for doctors – Good medical practice. The interim guidance for PAs and AAs is based on the current Good medical practice. PAs and AAs will be included in the development of the new guidance, which we expect to launch in 2023.

If you would like to be kept informed about this work as it develops towards public consultation then please join our GMP review community of interest.

Explanatory guidance and further resources to support PAs and AAs

Good medical practice is supported by a range of more detailed explanatory guidance. We encourage PAs and AAs to use it to support their understanding of the behaviours expected as a registered professional.

This material is currently addressed to doctors. But we will consider its relevance to all the professional groups we regulate through our process of review.

Our ethical hub provides topics and learning materials which show how our ethical guidance can be applied in a specific area of care. There are also links to relevant resources.

How we use the standards as a benchmark in our decision making

If we receive a complaint about a doctor, we consider it on the specific facts of the case. We take into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the doctor is working, and draw on the advice of expert witnesses where necessary.

We use our guidance as a benchmark to assess whether a doctor’s actions or decisions have fallen seriously or persistently below the standards expected. We expect there will be a very similar process for PAs and AAs when regulation begins.

In dealing with a concern, we are clear that it is not our role to punish or discipline individuals for past events. The purpose of any action we take is to protect the public by helping to make sure professionals on our register provide safe care, to uphold public confidence in our registrants and to maintain professional standards and conduct.

Questions and feedback

If you have any questions about how the professional standards guidance for PAs and AAs will apply when regulation begins you can email standards@gmc-uk.org.

Please note that we are not able to provide advice on individual situations in your current workplace until regulation commences. You may wish to contact your employer, representative professional body or defence organisation.