Review of the role of Physician Associates

This page contains frequently asked questions to help members stay up to date with the comprehensive review of the role of Physician Associates the College is undertaking.

If what you'd like to know is not covered below, please submit a question to Question Time with the Officers.

Interim guidance on Physician Associates working in mental health

The Review Group has drafted the following interim guidelines for employers, supervisors and practitioners to ensure PAs practice is safe, and governance processes are clear around their supervision and employment.

The name of the group that has been set up to undertake the review is the RCPsych Physician Associate Review Task and Finish Group and it will report to the RCPsych Education and Training Committee. 
The Terms of Reference for the Task and Finish Group were set up in January 2024 and the review itself will take place between February – November 2024. The findings and recommendations will be published shortly after, by December 2024. 

Membership of the Task and Finish Group will include:

  • RCPsych Dean (co-chair)
  • Chair of RCPsych Psychiatric Trainees’ Committee (co-chair)
  • RCPsych President
  • Trainee representative
  • Chair of RCPsych Specialty Doctor and Associate Specialist Committee
  • RCPsych Specialist Advisor for Workforce
  • RCPsych Faculty Chairs' representative
  • RCPsych Division Chairs' representative
  • RCPsych Devolved Nation representatives
  • RCPsych Patient and Carer representative (Co-Opted)
  • Educational and Workforce representatives from NES, NIMDTA, HEIW and NHSE (Co-Opted)
  • Physician Associate in Mental Health (Co-opted)
  • Employer Representatives from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Staff members:

  • RCPsych Director of Professional Standards
  • RCPsych Head of Training and Workforce
  • RCPsych Workforce and Retention Manager

Other experts and colleagues may be co-opted onto the group and/or invited to participate as required.

The aim of the review is to create guidance on how PAs can best support the multidisciplinary team in the delivery of good quality mental healthcare to patients. 

The purpose of the Task and Finishing Group is as follows: 

  1. To review the role of Physician Associates and how they can contribute to the work of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) and support the delivery of Mental Health care as part of the MDT. 
  2. To review the scope of practice and limitations of Physician Associates working in Mental Health. 
  3. To review the supervision requirements of Physician Associates working in Mental Health. 
  4. To invite input from key stakeholders including, but not limited to:  

    College Members, Employers across the four nations of the UK, Physician Associates, General Medical Council, British Medical Association, NHS England, NHS Education for Scotland, Health, Education and Improvement in Wales, Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of GPs, Royal College Paediatrics and Child Health, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), those involved in workforce optimisation initiatives and other experts in the field. 
  5. To develop an action plan for the college’s future work with Physician Associates and sharing of review outcomes with stakeholders. 
A Task and Finish Group is a time-limited group established for the purpose of conducting an in-depth review of any service, policy or issue that affects an organisation, in this case the College.  

Its size is restricted to those who have the responsibility and knowledge to deliver the objective, from within the membership however evidence can be gathered through a variety of ways, including (but not limited to): 

  • written evidence 
  • oral evidence and interviews with external and internal stakeholders 
  • discussions with other organisations - partners, experts by experience, other Colleges 
  • talking to people who are affected by the issue  
  • research 
  • seeking public views on the issue 
Once the evidence has been gathered, the Task and Finish Group will produce a report outlining details of the review process, evidence gathered, conclusions and any subsequent recommendations. 
The Task and Finish Group will meet monthly at minimum; possibly more frequently if necessary. 
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