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Americanised scheme hosted by Hillingdon Hospital to alleviate pressure on doctors

The scheme could help tackle staff shortages in the NHS and encourage more UK candidates with science degrees, rather than medicine degrees, to enter the health service

Hillingdon Hospital, in Pield Heath Road

An Americanised scheme rolling out nationally will see Hillingdon play host to the concept of employing increasing Physician Associates (PAs).

Around 200 PAs from America will cross the pond to boost the number of people in this increasingly vital role in the UK and alleviate pressures from doctors in the UK.

The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will oversee the arrival of the PAs as well as recruiting seven of them in the trust.

The programme plans to recruit 200 experienced PAs who would be deployed in four regions around the UK and support the work of hospital clinicians and GPs as part of a two-year secondment.

The aim of the programme is to improve the quality of patient care in the NHS providing additional experienced professionals to deliver high quality care to patients, which will support services currently relying on temporary staffing arrangements, often at a significant cost.

Dr Nick Jenkins, who recently completed a secondment at Hillingdon Hospital, is leading on The National Physician Associate Expansion Programme.

He says PAs would help tackle staff shortages in the NHS and encourage more UK candidates with science degrees to enter the health service.

Dr Jenkins, who is an experienced emergency department consultant, said: “America values the role of PAs in helping clinicians tackle increasingly heavy workloads. Almost 100,000 are employed in the states compared to just 200 in England.

“It’s a rewarding career opportunity for people with science degrees who don’t want to go to medical school but will end up being the right hand person to a doctor.

“PAs support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients and are trained to perform a number of roles, including taking medical histories, performing examinations and diagnosing and treating illnesses.

“They work under the supervision of a doctor and usually have a science-orientated first degree, to be able to get on to one of the training programmes.”

The National Physician Associate Expansion Programme (NPAEP) hopes to have the first PAs in place by the end of this year

The trust houses the programme’s management team and oversees HR and finance functions.

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