Nurses and doctors discussing treatment plan

Healthcare regulators to be given more power as draft legislation is released

The Government has moved to reaffirm its intention to modernise regulatory legislation and streamline the health system so frontline staff have more support and patients can receive better care.

In view of this, the Government has launched a new consultation that is asking for feedback on draft legislation that would give the General Medical Council the power to regulate physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) for the very first time.

If regulated, the Department of Health and Social Care believe PAs and AAs can help take some of the workload away from other parts of the workforce – for example, if these plans are approved, the possibility of expanding the prescribing responsibilities of PAs could be explored, which would help GPs dedicate more time to seeing patients.

The Government say the consultation marks the next stage in its ambition to revolutionise the regulatory system, with these proposed changes poised to give all regulators the ability to design their own processes, which in turn would enhance the patient experience and improve the ease at which staff can support the NHS’s frontline.

The proposals also cover plans to:

  • Allow regulators more power to modify their standards without requiring a green light from either Parliament or the Privy Council.
  • Modernise registration and regulatory processes so health professionals can respond to emerging challenges more effectively.
  • Level out power disparities amongst the various regulatory bodies, enabling them to work in partnership and share best practice more efficiently.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, said: “I want all parts of modern, multi-skilled healthcare teams to able to work to their full potential.

“That’s why we’re modernising out of date regulatory legislation to harness the full potential of roles such as physician and anaesthesia associates to provide the highest quality care for patients and relieve pressure on the NHS.

“This could also open the door to expanding prescribing powers, helping free up GPs, improve access to appointments and reduce pressure on hospitals.”

With the consultation open until the 16th of May 2023, the Government is hoping the proposals will act as a good template for future NHS reforms after the previous consultation in March 2021 received significant support and more than 500 responses from a range of different stakeholders.

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