New kind of medics start hospital jobs

A NEW category of health professionals – similar to junior doctors – are starting their hospital jobs.

The first cohort of physician associates have completed their studies at Aberdeen medical school. The 11-strong group have since found jobs at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and St George’s Hospital, London.

While the PAs are not doctors, they can do most of the tasks carried out by juniors and work under the supervision of a doctor.

The pilot study is the first of its kind in Scotland and is being run jointly by NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen.

PA students already have a science undergraduate degree and undergo a two year training course followed by a one year internship.

The role was created in the USA where there are believed to be more than 100,000 such medics. It is hoped they will be able to spend more time with patients and ease the workload of other clinical staff.

A BMA Scotland spokesman said: “Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals already work together to provide care for patients in Scotland and physician assistants could provide an intermediate level of care and help reduce the workload of an understaffed workforce.

"Although care that only doctors can deliver should only be delivered by doctors, there are many things that are currently done by doctors that need not be. All healthcare professionals, including doctors, should be aware of the limits of their competence and always practise within them."