Reforming the workforce

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.

Further information