21 May 2024

Royal College of Physicians debates the recommendations from its short life working group on the role of physician associates

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RCP Council agreed that patient safety must be the absolute priority when making decisions about the future of the NHS workforce. The full set of recommendations from the short life working group has now been published and is publicly available to download.

The group, chaired by RCP vice president for Wales Dr Hilary Williams, included a wide range of specialist physicians at all career stages. It made 16 recommendations to Council, the RCP's governing body for all professional and clinical matters.

Dr Sarah Clarke, RCP president, said: 

‘Today’s debate was a positive and productive step forward. The short life working group has developed a robust and effective set of recommendations, and Council held a full and frank discussion about next steps. Senior officers will now reconvene with Council to agree how we take this forward, and we will update fellows and members soon.

‘Above all, I want to offer my thanks to members of the short life working group, who have delivered a clear set of proposed actions in a short period of time. This is where the RCP is at its best: leading and advocating on behalf of our patients and our members.’

Dr Hilary Williams, chair of the short life working group and RCP vice president for Wales, said:

Our patients deserve to be treated by regulated healthcare professionals working to a clear national scope of practice and consistent clinical and professional standards of competence, professional support, and career development – be this a PA, doctor, nurse, or any other valued member of the multidisciplinary team. A failure on the part of national bodies to define, deliver and maintain national standards poses a risk to clarity and patient safety, and has contributed to growing dissent across the wider NHS workforce. It is time to put this right.’