Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Physician associates in general practice

Physician associates: avoiding blame culture

BMJ 2023; 382 doi: (Published 04 September 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;382:p2000

Rapid Response:

Re: Physician associates: avoiding blame culture

Dear Editor

I totally agree with David Hodgkinson - how often have there been missed diagnoses by junior doctors, GPs and dare I say it consultants? We all have error rates: some time ago I called on the Colleges to set acceptable error rates and was met with a wall of silence: BMJ 2019;365:l4233 doi: 10.1136/bmj.l4233 (Published 19 June 2019)

I remember similar arguments being made when nurse practitioners first came on the scene and now we can't fill all the available posts.

Our experience, in NHS Lothian ENT, of physician associates is positive, and they have helped train FY2s, Core Trainees and GPSTs - our juniors think of them as part of the department, not as competition. We do triage the patients they see without direct supervision, very carefully.

The sooner the GMC regulates them so that we can train them to prescribe (limited drugs in a similar way to nurse practitioners) the better.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 September 2023
Gillian M MacDougall
ENT consultant
NHS Lothian
ENT dept, Lauriston Building, Edinburgh