17 June 2024

RCP describes language used on NHS posters to describe physician associates as misleading, irresponsible and unsafe


The RCP, which also currently hosts the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) has called on national organisations and local NHS employers to be clear, honest and transparent when talking about the role of PAs, especially in patient-facing communications.

PAs work as members of the wider multidisciplinary team (MDT) under the supervision of senior doctors. PAs are not doctors. They cannot and must not replace doctors. They must always work within a defined scope of competence; they are not independent medical practitioners, and they must be supervised appropriately by a consultant, GP or specialist doctor.

In October 2023, the FPA published titles and introduction guidance which makes it clear that PAs are not doctors and should introduce themselves clearly and with a full explanation about their role in the healthcare team.

The RCP has today written to the chair of Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership (BDCHCP) Board to raise serious concerns about the language used on these posters, pointing out that the false use of the protected title of physician is not only illegal, but also irresponsible and unsafe. We have asked BDCHCP to remind their staff to be clear at all times in the way they describe their role to patients and the public.