Physician Associates: working in partnership with eye care practitioners

31 March 2023
Acuity digital

Kathy Oxtoby looks at the role of the Physician Associate – and why one might be contacting an optometrist soon.

This winter, more than ever, the healthcare workforce has been under enormous pressure. According to the British Medical Association (BMA), the care backlog is at a record high, with almost 7.21 million patients waiting for treatment in England (BMA, 2023a). 

In addition, GP practices are experiencing significant and growing strain, with rising demand, declining GP numbers, struggles to recruit and retain staff, and knock-on effects for patients (BMA, 2023b). 

BMA analysis shows that the overall number of GPs has seen little growth since 2015, with the number of GP partners declining significantly. Over that same time, practices have gained, on average, 2,224 more patients (BMA, 2023b).

“General practice is under massive pressure,” says Professor Sir Sam Everington, a GP in Tower Hamlets at the Bromley by Bow Centre, and a member of the BMA Council. “The Government has promised more GPs for many years and not delivered – so we’ve had to be innovative, and the obvious solution has been to widen the primary care team.

“Physician Associates are a critical part of that team and can carry out an estimated 80% of the work that GPs would traditionally do,” he says.

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