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Staffordshire Physician Associate (PA) Internship Programme Update

Howbeck Healthcare have been leading the way with North Staffordshire GP Federation since 2017 with their unique and innovative Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) endorsed Staffordshire Physician Associate (PA) Internship. Initially the programme began with three interns who went on to graduate but we are pleased to announce that now, in its fourth year, and having expanded to cover Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin back in 2019, it will see it’s 50th PA graduate in 2022.

With 85% of interns being retained by their host practice, this 12-month specialty training scheme combines weekly teaching and simulation with work-based assessments and support for both interns and their host GP Practice and Primary Care Network (PCN). Through utilising the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) and the Health Education England (HEE) funding, the project team have been able to offer comparable funding arrangements for interns similar to that of GP trainees.

This year the project team were asked to set up a new internship model across Merseyside and Cheshire, in addition to the Birmingham and Solihull programme. The team are now working with Training Hubs and PCNs across the Midlands to support the development of additional PA training schemes from 2022.

From April 2021, Dr Sankari Perumal has taken over the role as clinical lead for the programme.  Dr Sankari states,  “I am very much looking forward to taking over the role from Dr Sharon Turner who has now retired having been the driving force behind establishing the Staffordshire PA Internship. I hope to be able to follow the momentum and legacy she has created with the founding team.”   Lucy Minshull (also a founding member of the team) continues as Project Manager.  Dr Jon Wright and Dr Amrik Jheeta are both experienced GP Tutors supporting the teaching programme.  To support the expansion of the programme, recruitment has commenced for additional PA tutors.

Alex Strivens PA-R who joined the team in 2017 and has been the PA Tutor/ Educational Supervisor, having developed the curriculums plus competency framework for the Internships.  Alex has now taken up the role of Training Programme Director (TPD) with responsibility for the internship programmes. Clinically he is a PA Partner in General Practice on the Powys / Shropshire border.

As we approach statutory regulation (GMC) and prescribing for PAs in 2023 we are starting to have our first insights into the future of post qualification training for PAs with the publication of the draft Core Capabilities Framework and PA Curriculum.

If post regulation we were to see a formal foundation programme for PAs introduced, then these models would pivot to delivering speciality training on completion of that programme and are designed to integrate with the PA Apprenticeship standard.

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