BMA urges House of Lords to block the regulation of physician and anaesthesia associates over risks to patient care

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Saturday 24 February 2024

In an open letter published in advertisements in newspapers on Sunday,  the chair of the BMA, Professor Phil Banfield, urges Peers in the House of Lords to oppose the regulation of physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) by the GMC. The BMA has consistently spoken out against regulation by the General Medical Council - the body which licenses doctors - of  PAs and AAs. The Association says the blurring of the lines between doctors and non-medically qualified professionals is confusing and can lead to tragic consequences.  

Professor Banfield’s letter calls upon Peers to use the scheduled House of Lords debate on Monday (26th February) to block the Government’s desire to see the Associates regulated by the GMC.  The legislation, which was waved through the Commons on the 22 January, has already been brought under heavy scrutiny by Peers for not taking on board the serious concerns of the medical profession. The Order will now be debated in the main Chamber of the House of Lords and has three “motions” tabled against it: two to “regret”, and one to “decline” its approval. It is the latter motion we are calling on Peers to support, which would stop the legislation.   

In the letter, Professor Banfield says:  

“PAs are not doctors. They do not hold a medical degree and are not medically trained, despite misleading statements made by some. We know that patients are already confused about telling the difference between PAs and doctors, and this legislation will make this problem worse.  

“Blurring the lines between doctors and non-medically qualified professionals can have tragic consequences. We’ve already seen what can happen when a patient believes they’ve seen a doctor when they haven’t, with multiple reports of patients suffering serious harm after being misdiagnosed by a PA.  

“Keeping the GMC as the regulator exclusively of doctors would mean we retain the clear distinction between doctors and PAs. Doctors and patients oppose this legislation. We ask that you listen to those voices and do the same.”  

As well as the letter, the BMA is running a series of adverts in national newspapers which point out the potential risks to patient care when the roles of doctor and physician or anaesthesia associates are confused.

 

Notes to editors

 

Link here to wording of the legislation being heard in the debate 

 

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.