Physician Associates

Physician associates in general practice

Who are they, what can they do and what education and training do physician associates have?

Who are PAs?

Physician associates are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals, who work alongside doctors and provide medical care as an integral part of the multidisciplinary team. Physician associates are independent practitioners working with a dedicated medical supervisor, but are able to work autonomously with appropriate support.  

PAs in General Practice Physician associates (PAs) are a relatively new member of the clinical team, seen as complementary to GPs rather than a substitute.

This does not mitigate the need to address the shortage of GPs or reduce the need for other practice staff. Instead PAs can help to broaden the capacity of the GP role and skill mix within the practice team to deliver patient care.

What is a Physician Associate ?

The below video clearly depicts the role and responsibilities of a Physician Associate, making it a useful recourse for Practices/PCNs to help explain to Patients what a Physician Associate is.


Within Gloucestershire we are gradually increasing the numbers of Student placements for PAs in order to both encourage PA students to wish to undergo a career within primary care and also to help practices better understand the skills PAs have to offer within our practices.

As part of the new GP contract, through a new Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme, Primary Care Networks (PCNs) will be guaranteed funding to meet a recurrent 100% of the actual on going salary costs of additional Physicians Associates.

The eligible maximum pay against which the 100% reimbursement will apply is the sum of (a) the weighted average salary for the specified Agenda for Change band; plus (b) the associated employer on-costs.

The reimbursement for Physicians Associates will commence in 2020/21 and will be at band 7 level.

For examples of job descriptions of Physician’s Associates in Primary Care please get in touch

What can PAs do?

PAs can fulfil an enabling role in general practice, taking on certain areas of workload, helping to free GPs to focus on the more complex patient cases as well as other staff, such as nurses so they can focus on their areas of competency. This means that GPs can continue to lead multi-disciplinary teams to adapt to the evolving healthcare needs of patients in response to the growing and ageing population.

To read a short summary booklet about PAs working in Primary Care
Click here

Physician associates work within a defined scope of practice and limits of competence. They:

  • take medical histories from patients
  • carry out physical examinations
  • see patients with undifferentiated diagnoses
  • see patients with long-term chronic conditions
  • formulate differential diagnoses and management plans
  • perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
  • develop and deliver appropriate treatment and management plans
  • request and interpret diagnostic studies and results
  • provide health promotion and disease prevention advice for patients.

Currently, physician associates are not able to:

  • Prescribe
  • Request ionising radiation (eg chest x-ray or CT scan).

In October 2018 secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock announced the introduction of statutory regulation for physician associates and physician assistants in anaesthesia, following direct engagement with the NHS workforce. Click here > for more information.

This will pave the way for independent prescribing and independent ionising radiation requests. A review of the introduction of these functions is written into the bill to occur 6 months after the bill passes.

Much more info from the Royal College of Physicians – Faculty of Physicians Associates- (FPARCP) can be found by Clicking here >, and please contact us if you are interested in hosting student placements for PAs, or interested in employing a PA.

Click here > 
To see the FPARCP employment guide for PAs

Workforce Transformation and Education information

WT&E have a Physician associates in primary care information page for GPs, PAs, and Practice Managers, with case studies, FAQs, and how to guides. To go to the page Click Here >

There is also a Health Careers page for those people thinking about becoming a PA. Click Here >

PA careers are tagged #AssociateYourself on social media and Linkedin

WT&E have also released a selection of PA video case studies for the full list, Click Here 

PA Education and training

There are 2 Post Graduate PA programs running that look for placements in the Gloucestershire area. They are based at the University West of England PA program and the University of Worcester PA program. 

Both program leads are always happy to take offers of placements directly and we can put you in touch with them, or you can go direct to the Universities.

Placements offer tariff remuneration of around £95 per day.

UWE & UoW are working collaboratively to manage placements across Gloucestershire County. Click here > to see a placement comparison summary.

Click here > to see the UWE quick reference guide for hosting PA students in General Practice

Click here > for the UoW PA preceptor Handbook

PA preceptorship payment

There is also a 5k preceptorship payment available for those Practices looking to employ a newly qualified PA. This to help the employing practice with employee development costs in the 1st year of work. For more details Click here >

To find out more, and if you are interested in hosting PA students get in touch

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