The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan outlines how we can put the NHS on a sustainable future footing by training, retaining and reforming the workforce to deliver multi-disciplinary teams serving patients across the NHS. This means recruiting and training more doctors, nurses, allied health and other professionals and ensuring every team member can contribute their skills, experience and education.
Delivering the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan
Ambitions around medical associate roles, including physician associates and anaesthesia associates
As part of this package of measures, we have committed to expanding enhanced, advanced and associate roles already working across the NHS, such as Anaesthesia Associates (in the NHS since 2004), Physician Associates (in the NHS since 2004) and more recent nursing associate roles (in the NHS since 2016).
NHS England welcomes the laying of legislation for anaesthesia associates and physician associates. Please read our statement on bringing these roles into statutory regulation.
Medical associate professions (including physician associates and anaesthesia associates) work alongside doctors to perform specific aspects of patient care and can increase the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary team. The assumed impact of these ‘medical associate’ roles is based on a combination of case studies and clinical and professional engagement and literature review. This evidence tells us that medical associates are reported to be safe, they increase the breadth of skill, the capacity and flexibility of the multidisciplinary team, they positively contribute to patient experience and flow, and they reduce the overall workload pressure on other clinicians.
Regulation by the General Medical Council (GMC) will help to increase the contribution that physician associates and anaesthesia associates can make to healthcare as part of a multidisciplinary team, while providing assurance of patient safety.
- NHS England’s position on physician associates, 7 February 2024 letter to Royal College of Physicians
- Enhancing doctors’ working lives 2023 annual report
- Read more about the work we are doing with partners to achieve the NHS Long Term Workforce Plans Ambitions around Medical Associate roles
- Read NHS England’s response to the GMC’s letter on regulation of Physician Associates and Anaesthesia Associates (26 October 2023)
- Access a factsheet on Physician and Anaesthesia Associate roles in the NHS
- NHS England chief workforce, training and education officer and national medical director letter (21 November 2023) to chair of the British Medical Association in response to BMA press release