GMC sets conditions for taking on regulation of physician associates

The GMC has indicated it is open to regulating physician associates, as the government moves to introduce regulation for medical associate professions (MAPs).

The physician associate role and that of other MAPs could dramatically strengthen health services if they were regulated by the GMC, according to the regulator.

The government is currently consulting on how MAPs should be regulated, and has asked for views on whether they should be subject to statutory or voluntary oversight.

The consultation comes after ministers committed to bolstering the GP workforce by making 1,000 physician associates available to work in general practice by 2020, alongside 5,000 more doctors.

It also asks which organisation should be responsible for regulating this group of healthcare staff, suggesting either the GMC or the Health and Care Professions Council.

Three other professions are included under the MAP umbrella, including surgical care practitioners, advanced critical care practitioners and anaesthesia physician assistants.

Regulation

The Academy of Royal Colleges and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) have voiced their support in their responses to the consultation for the GMC to take the mantle of regulating MAPs.

In its own response to the consultation, the GMC said it is open to accepting regulatory responsibility for MAPs, but only under condition that the government agrees on three points.

It asks that the four roles are seen as a single profession with different areas of practice under a flexible, legal-proofed framework. It requests that the government covers the GMC’s costs in establishing regulation of this group, warning that doctors ‘should not subsidise these costs or the ongoing regulation of MAPs’.

The GMC also said that a staggered timetable for introducing regulation for the four roles must be established to ensure a ‘smooth transition’.

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘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.'

The consultation will close on Friday 22 December, with results due in 2018.

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