Persistent increase in demand across primary and secondary care
What is the National Physician Associate Expansion Programme?
The National Physician Associate Expansion Programme or ‘NPAEP’ is a specialist NHS transformation programme that has been created in order to expand the numbers of Physician Associates working in the NHS. Through a dramatic increase in the numbers of Physician Associates we hope to be able to demonstrate the significant benefits that the use of Physician Associates will bring to patients, to NHS providers and to fellow NHS colleagues. In order to successfully expand the numbers of Physician Associates we are focused on two core objectives
Recruiting experienced Physician Associates from the USA
We will recruit 200 Physician Associates from the USA and deploy them in 4 regions around England. There are currently around 100,000 Physician Associates practicing in the US where the role has been established for over 50 years. Piecemeal English attempts to deploy Physician Associates has succeeded in part. However, in order for the health service to see a transformational change and realise the benefits that a significant increase in the numbers of Physician Associates could bring, it has been decided to recruit a large cohort from the US now.
Developing the architecture to train a sustainable supply of Physician Associates here in the UK
We want to support Higher Education Institutions to expand delivery of Physician Associates training programmes in order to meet the needs of their local health communities. We will firmly establish the market for Physician Associates within the NHS and demonstrate the need for increased capacity within Physician Associates training. Over time, the expanding Physician Associates programmes within England will produce graduates who can train alongside, and eventually replace, the US Physician Associates.
Why do we need more PAs in the NHS?
Concerns in the current system
There are currently a number of concerns affecting the health service and impacting upon the ability to deliver good quality, safe and effective care.
The current workforce is being asked to do more, often with reduced resource. We also know that the population is continuing to grow and with it patient demographics are changing. This has resulted in an increased use of locums and temporary staff which creates a risk that quality will suffer and, of course, expensive.
The case for change
These specific concerns within acute specialties and general concerns over population and demographic changes all point towards a case for change around service provision, driven ultimately by three key issues, the need to:
- Develop a consistent, sustainable workforce to support the delivery of better healthcare and build much-needed continuity for patients;
- Reduce the clinical and financial risks associated with temporary staff; and
- Reduce pressure within current clinical teams to allow for increased focus on patient safety and quality of care.
We believe that an increase in the number of Physician Associates working in the NHS will assist in addressing a number of these concerns.
Physician Associates will provide expert support to clinical teams in the delivery of holistic care and treatment, helping to build much needed capacity in the NHS workforce.