BMA calls for immediate pause on recruitment of physician associates

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Thursday 16 November 2023
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The BMA has called for an immediate halt to the recruitment of Medical Associate Professionals (MAPs) in the UK including Physician Associates (PAs) and Anaesthesia Associates (AAs).

Doctors from across the UK who make up the BMA’s UK Council have passed a Motion which calls for the moratorium on the grounds of patient safety. They want the pause to last until the government and NHS put guarantees in place to make sure that MAPs are properly regulated and supervised. The move follows a number of recent cases in which patients have not always known they were being treated by a physician associate and tragically have come to harm.

Professor Phil Banfield, BMA chair of council, said:

“Doctors across the UK are getting more and more worried about the relentless expansion of the medical associate professions, brought into sharp focus by terrible cases of patients suffering serious harm after getting the wrong care from MAPs. Now is the time for the Government to listen before it is too late. We are clear: until there is clarity and material assurances about the role of MAPs, they should not be recruited in the NHS.  

“We have always been clear that MAPs can play an important part in NHS teams, and doctors will continue to value, respect and support individual staff they work with. But MAPs roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined. We are seeing increased instances of MAPs encroaching on the role of doctors; they are not doctors, do not have a medical degree and do not have the extensive training and depth of knowledge that doctors do. As doctors, we are worried that patients and public do not understand what this could mean in respect of the level of experience and expertise in care they receive.

“The General Medical Council is the exclusive regulator of doctors in the UK. Adding staff who are not doctors and do not have a medical degree to the GMC register brings into question the competence and qualification of the whole medical profession. The Government may view this as a price worth paying for a shortcut to solving the workforce crisis they have presided over. We know otherwise. GMC regulation of MAPs will only add to the confusion and uncertainty that patients face.

“Ministers may hope that by using secondary legislation, which may not even require the vote of MPs, they can avoid raising the alarm. But patients want doctors to remain doctors, regulated by a dedicated body, and they have a right to have confidence in the expert medical care they receive. There must be no doubt that when a patient goes to see a doctor, they are going to see a doctor. This blurring of roles and the confusion caused to patients must stop now.”



Notes to editors


The full BMA council motion, passed Wednesday 15 November, reads:


This Council is concerned that, without a clear scope of practice and an appropriate regulator, medical associate professionals (MAPs) present a clear risk to patient safety. Council instructs the BMA to:

  1. Call for UK governments to institute an immediate moratorium on all recruitment and expansion of MAPs until such a time that their scope of practice is properly and nationally defined, agreed, and quality assured 
  2. Oppose the regulation of MAPs by the General Medical Council (GMC) and calls on the UK Government to regulate MAPs separately from doctors
  3. If the GMC does regulate MAPs, demand a separate register and a separate format for GMC registration



The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.