Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship

Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship

Howbeck Healthcare is extremely proud to be providing the project management support for a pioneering and unique Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship initiated and developed within the North Staffordshire GP Federation.  This locally developed internship for Physician Associates (PA) works across primary and secondary care, to determine whether a new model of workforce and skill mix is both sustainable and clinically effective.

This programme was developed to appoint 24 Physician Associates (PAs) offering a 1-year internship working across primary and secondary to offer solutions to the local and national GP workforce issues and to offer the best patient care across Staffordshire.   To date 22 PAs have been recruited over a 15-month timescale.



In September 2018, saw the first cohort of Physician Associates (PA)s from the internship successfully graduate from the one year programme.  The internship provides an opportunity for, predominantly, new PAs to develop skills in primary care with a supported, supervised and (for practices) subsidised scheme. This allows both practices and PAs to learn how they can best work together.    

The internship has received visits from various sectors of the NHS across the country who are keen to replicate the programme.    

In addition, we are now providing the project management support for a similar model for the Shropshire & Telford Wrekin Physician Associate Internship

We are extremely proud that the RCGP have recently endorsed Staffordshire Physician Associate Programme. 

We are holding the first Physician Associates in Primary Care Conference on Thursday 13th June at Keele Hall, Staffordshire.  For further details please contact

(From left to right) Cymone Argent – PA; Lucy Minshull – Project Manager; Dr Jon Wright – Senior GP Tutor; Dr Sharon Turner – Clinical Lead and Elita Unyolo – PA

Project Funding

£360,289 (NHSE & HEE)

Project Implementation

First cohort of PAs commenced on the 2nd October 2017 and the second cohort commenced on the 26th February 2018.

Practices in the Project

Contribution to the High Impact Changes (HICs)

This project contributes to the following HICs:

  • HIC 4. Developing the Team
  • HIC 7 Partnership Working

Examples of how practices have used the project

  • Helping to sustain primary care;
  • Increasing the medical workforce numbers in primary care;
  • Attracting new workforce to our local health economy
  • Adding skill mix, with standardised minimum expertise, within primary care;
  • Act in an enabling role, helping to reduce the primary care healthcare team’s workload;
  • Bring new talent to the NHS


Patients would be happy to see the PA for a repeat visit

“I really appreciated the time taken and the decision for a second opinion.  It showed to me empathy and care.  Happy to be seen again; Very friendly and nice, made me feel at ease, very easy to talk to and will be more than happy to see.”


Patients value the time spent with, and the approach of the, PAs

“[the PA] explained everything fully and I felt [the PA] was genuine and easy to talk to”; “Felt listened too, given options”; “Listened fully to symptoms, consulted with GP and I felt I was given the same treatment as a GP”;