quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

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 we commissioned a report called “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.

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 across hospital and community services.

What are the medical associate professions?

Each medical associate profession is trained in their specific role to provide patient care under the supervision of a doctor. This releases additional time for doctors to focus on more complex patient issues.

  • 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.

Find out more about these roles on the Health Careers website.