The Department of Health and Social Care has announced the General Medical Council (GMC) will regulate physician associates (PA) and anaesthesia associates.
The decision by the DHSC comes after agreement from all four UK Governments was reached.
The timescales for setting up regulation and the associated costs are still due to be worked out, said the GMC.
But the BMA has been reported saying it was 'fundamentally opposed' to the GMC being the chosen regulator, pointing out that it already has a 'significant scope of work' in relation to overseeing doctors’ medical education and training, setting professional standards and acting on concerns.
Charlie Massey, General Medical Council Chief Executive said:
‘We are pleased the four UK governments have made a decision about who should take this important work forward. We look forward to supporting physician associates and anaesthesia associates to maximise their contribution to the workforce, while ensuring high standards are maintained to meet the needs of patients.
‘We are now working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to determine timescales and costs. We have been clear that costs should not be borne by doctors. In accepting responsibility for regulating these professions, we will also make sure that excellence is maintained in education for both doctors and medical associate professionals, so that all trainees receive the time and support they need to learn and provide safe care’.
PAs currently work under the supervision of doctors and are unable to prescribe or refer patients for scans - but it is believed that regulation will lead to them being able to prescribe.
In a statement, health minister Stephen Hammond said today’s announcement was a ‘much-needed, positive step forward’.
He said: ‘Professional regulation from the GMC will give associates renewed support to thrive in diverse clinical teams, helping them provide the highest quality care for patients, and to reach their full career potential.’
It is hoped that by giving PAs more power through better regulation, it will be a potential solution for the workforce crisis.