A&E units to be staffed by doctors’ assistants
We all know to expect the already overstretched NHS to be under further pressure during the winter months. Staff shortages have been widely reported for some time, and the NHS is introducing moves designed to fill the gaps.
Whilst hundreds more doctors will be trained to work in emergency units over the next few years, in the short term, patients attending A&E departments can expect to be routinely treated by doctors’ assistants under plans for a ten-fold increase in less-qualified workers.
Doctors’ leaders say that this plan shows that the NHS is dealing with the staffing crisis, and this move will avoid the need to hire expensive locum doctors. However, other health commentators have raised concerns about the physician associates who will be taking vital decisions on patient treatment. Currently there are around 100 physician associates in A&E departments, and the plan is for numbers to rise to as many as 1,000.
Any move to increase staffing levels must be welcomed, however we believe that only doctors can provide certain types of care, and physician associates cannot replace doctors. The government will need to put measures in place to ensure that standards are maintained.
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