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RCEM – Physician Associates

12 September 2023

In 2023 the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) opened a consultation on the regulation of Physician Associates (PAs) by the General Medical Council (GMC).

The College responded to the consultation as requested.

At the September 2023 RCEM Executive Meeting, the College agreed to the formation of a short life working group (SLWG) to establish what the role of Emergency Medicine Physician Associates, as well as any necessary training and training pathways, could be.

The College will update on this work once it has been concluded.

No decisions about the future potential role of PAs in emergency medicine has been made by RCEM.

Update 7 Feb 2024

All the members of the SLWG have now been recruited, and an initial meeting is being arranged.

Further updates will be made in due course.

Update 23 February 2024

As part of the SLWG the College is consulting its members on PAs in EM via a survey. (RCEM consulting members on Emergency Medicine Physician Associates   | RCEM)

The deadline for completion is 5pm, Friday 8 March 2024.

Update 5 March 2024

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has published a statement detailing the ‘High level principles concerning Physician Associates’ Consensus_statement_High_level_principles_concerning_PAs_040324.pdf (

RCEM supports these over-arching principles – however the work of the Short Life Working Group will continue to develop an EM specific position.

The College’s position remains that no decision about the future potential role of PAs in Emergency Medicine has been made.

Update 7 March 2024

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine is aware that BMA has today (7 March 2024) published a document entitled ‘Safe scope of practice for medical associate professionals’.

The College has not been involved in the drafting of this document and has not been asked to feed into it.

It is up to each Royal College – as the standard-setting professional body of its specialty – to draw up is own guidance and positioning around any scope, role and training requirements for Physician Associates.

RCEM – which supports the overarching principles detailed in the statement produced by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – has not yet developed its position on Physician Associates in Emergency Medicine.

The College has formed a Short Life Working Group of PAs in EM.

As part its work, RCEM is currently consulting its members on the issue via a survey.

The deadline for completion is 5pm Friday 8 March 2024 and the College encourages as many members as possible to share their views and experiences via this survey to enable them to feed into this important discussion.

Update 22 March 2024

Thanks to all the Members and Fellows who took part in our survey about PAs; around a quarter of our membership responded.

We are analysing the information, and it will be considered as part of our Short Life Working Group which is looking at all the issues. We will be sharing more details in due course, once we have gathered other views and feedback.

The College’s SLWG on PAs in EM met on 15 March.

There was discussion and agreement about expanding the membership of the group and the College is now recruiting a Lay Group member and PA representation.

Once the additional members have been recruited the second meeting will be convened to progress this work.

Further updates will be provided as appropriate.

Update 2 April 2024

Following its initial meeting, The Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s Short Life Working Group on Emergency Medicine Physician Associates is seeking to expand its membership and knowledge base by recruiting two Physician Associates. Applicants must be PAs currently working within an Emergency Department. Further details are listed on the Volunteer Opportunities page of the RCEM website. The closing date for applications – 5pm, Friday 19 April 2024.

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