The medical care practitioner: developing a physician assistant equivalent for the United Kingdom

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Abstract

A range of demographic, social and other factors are creating a crisis in the provision of clinical care in the United Kingdom for which the physician assistant (PA) model developed in the United States appears to offer a partial solution. Local and national moves are underway to develop a similar cadre of registered health care professionals in England, with the current title of medical care practitioners (MCPs). A competence and curriculum framework document produced by a national steering group has formed the basis for a recent consultation process. A limited evaluation of US-trained PAs working in the West Midlands region of England in both primary care and acute secondary care suggests that PA activity is similar to that of doctors working in primary care and to primary care doctors working in the accident and emergency setting. The planned introduction of MCPs in England appears to offer, first, an effective strategy for increasing medical capacity, without jeopardising quality in frontline clinical services; and, second, the prospect of increased flexibility and stability in the medical workforce. The deployment of MCPs may offer advantages over increasing the number of doctors or taking nurses out of nursing roles. The introduction of MCPs may also enhance service effectiveness and efficiency.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Volume185
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006