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IMO warns that new PA grade must not be used to mask the shortage of doctors

By Reporter - 05th Apr 2024

IMO AGM

The IMO has warned that the remit of healthcare workers in the emerging grade of physician associate (PA), which is being introduced into the Irish healthcare system, must be clearly defined and regulated.

The warning was made at the AGM of the IMO which is underway in Killarney.

 To qualify as PA, a graduate from a health science related subject undergoes a two-year programme. 

However, the IMO has pointed out a PA is not a medical graduate and “the training does not compare to the six-years plus of study and training required to qualify as a doctor”.

In the UK there have been concerns raised following cases where patients believed they were being seen by a doctor but, in fact, it was a PA, according to the Organisation.

Dr Denis McCauley, the new President of the IMO, has warned that the role of PAs must be carefully regulated and limited to avoid any risk to patient safety. 

He said: “The Irish health service needs more doctors, but we are concerned that PAs may be recruited to mask the shortage of doctors.  The role of the PA can only be to support doctors…not to replace them.”

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