Physician Associate in Mental Health programme shortlisted for prestigious HSJ award

Online news
17 August 2023

The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Physician Associate in Mental Health programme has been shortlisted in the Workforce Initiative of the Year category of the 2023 Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards

This innovative programme supports the development of physician associates who work under the supervision of senior psychiatrists to deliver holistic physical and mental health care to patients as part of the multi-disciplinary clinical team. 

They can take a lead role in managing the physical health of patients with serious mental illness, autism and learning disabilities. They carry out assessments and mental and physical examinations, support diagnostic and therapeutic management plans and coordinate care. 

In 2019, there were 19 physician associates working in mental health care across the UK. Today, there are over 150 physician associates working in psychiatric specialties and hundreds more working in mental health teams nationwide while the College’s Physician Associate Network now has over 500 members. 

Launched in 2020 with funding from Health Education England, the Physician Associate in Mental Health programme has supported over 200 physician associates to improve their skills and knowledge within mental health, learning disability and autism while improving care for patients.

The programme team has delivered 20 online seminars to 95 employers and provided online training on a variety of topics including depression, dementia, psychosis, trauma, substance misuse, learning disabilities, eating disorders, and population health. 

Working in partnership with the College’s National Collaboration Centre for Mental Health, the programme team co-produced a first-of-its-kind Competency Framework for Physician Associates in Mental Health. They have also published a suite of education and other resources for physician associates, psychiatrists, students, employers and patients. 

Dr Helen Crimlisk, Clinical Lead for the College’s Physician Associate in Mental Health programme and Deputy Medical Director at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We’re delighted the Physician Associate in Mental Health programme has been shortlisted in this year’s HSJ awards. This programme was developed in partnership with a vast array of stakeholders including physician associates, psychiatrists, patients, carers and other mental health professionals. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved for their hard work. 

“With people with serious mental illness dying up to 20 years prematurely, physician associates can ensure patients receive holistic and integrated care that addresses their physical and mental health needs. I’m delighted our programme has provided employers with the confidence to recruit hundreds of new physician associates and persuaded physician associates to use their skills to support the improvement of mental health care.”

Paul Rees, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“The Physician Associate in Mental Health programme is a truly innovative approach to improving care for patients while also helping to tackle the recruitment and retention challenges within mental health care. Congratulations to everyone involved on being shortlisted in this year’s HSJ awards.”

The winner of the 2023 HSJ Workforce Initiative of the Year Award is set to be announced on 16 November. 

Find more information about the Physician Associate in Mental Health programme.

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