Monday, October 2, 2023

Physician associates in the NHS

  1. Rebecca Rosen, senior clinical fellow,
  2. William Palmer, senior fellow
  1. Nuffield Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: R Rosen Rebecca.Rosen{at}

Strengthening safety and trust in a changing clinical workforce

Physician associates, also known as physician assistants, have become an established part of the healthcare workforce in many countries. They undertake varied clinical functions in both hospitals and primary care,1 and, at a time of global physician shortages, are intended to help meet rising demand for care.

Research from the US, UK, and elsewhere has suggested that physician associates can deliver safe, cost effective care.2 But their use in primary care in England is under intense scrutiny following the case of 30 year old Emily Chesterton, who died after a physician associate failed to diagnose and treat her deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus at two consultations and did not seek advice from a doctor.3 Deployment, scope of practice, and supervision of physician associates continue to vary widely in this currently unregulated role. How then to ensure quality and …

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