GMC “well-placed” to regulate medical associates

THE GMC believes it would be well-placed to regulate the emerging medical associate professions (MAPs), which could "dramatically strengthen health services".

The GMC in response to a consultation from the Department of Health (England) said regulation would help MAPs – which include physician associates, surgical care practitioners, advanced critical care practitioners and physician assistants – reach their full potential as a professional group while ensuring patient safety.

The consultation asks whether MAPs should be regulated by the GMC or the Health and Care Professions Council. The GMC states that it would be well-placed to accept regulatory responsibility for MAPs, providing the Government agrees:

  • they are seen as a single profession with different areas of practice under a flexible, future-proofed legal framework
  • funding to cover the GMC’s costs of setting up their regulation
  • a timetable that allows for a smooth transition, with the regulation of the four roles happening in stages rather than all at once.

The GMC is clear that doctors should not subsidise the set-up costs or ongoing regulation of MAPs.

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said: "Our health services must be dynamic to meet the changing needs of patients and we believe a range of new professionals with varied skillsets must be part of the solution.

"It’s down to the four UK governments to decide which of these roles should be regulated and by whom. However, as medical associates work closely with doctors, we believe there is a strong argument that we should accept responsibility for them. We are in a good place to do this, providing the Government gives us funding and the underlying legislation is fit enough for modern healthcare.

"Regulating these roles as a single profession rather than four separate groups would mean that we could help to grow a new profession, one that has the potential to increase their support for doctors who we know continue to face huge strains on their time."

The Department of Health is expected to release a report on the outcome of its consultation in 2018.