19 December 2023

College statement on physician associates

The College of Optometrists issues statement regarding the government announcement that the Physician Associate (PA) role is to be regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC).

The College of Optometrists welcomes the government’s announcement that the Physician Associate (PA) role is to be regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC). However, it will be important that they clearly identify themselves as PAs when communicating with patients.

While we recognise that PAs can play an important role in supporting care in a number of specialities, such as general practice, we cannot see an immediate need for them within ophthalmology.  

We already have an established, expert multi-professional workforce of regulated health professionals across eye care, including optometrists, dispensing opticians, orthoptists and ophthalmic nurses. Health services should be designing eye care services to better use the skills of hospital optometrists and other existing eye care professionals, and to share care more effectively with optometrists and colleagues who work in primary care. The College's workforce vision sets out how this can be achieved.

We know that the Royal College of Ophthalmologists is running a PA pilot and will monitor its results.

We are also working with stakeholders across the UK to develop a workforce supply and demand data modelling project, to support commissioners and service planners to understand their local workforce and make better use of eye care professionals to improve patient outcomes.

Find out more

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