Irish Medical Organisation

Warning that new grade of “physician associate” must not be used to mask the shortage of doctors in Ireland.

Major controversy in UK following cases of patients being treated by PAs who they (the patients) wrongly believed were doctors.


Friday 5th April 2024   The Irish Medical Organisation has warned that the remit of heath care workers in the emerging grade of “physician associates” must be clearly defined and regulated as they are now being introduced to the Irish health system.  

The warning was made today at the AGM of the IMO which is underway in Killarney.

 To qualify as Physician Associate (PA), a graduate from a health science related subject undergoes a 2-year programme.  However, the PA is not a medical graduate and the training does not compare to the 6 years plus of study and training required to qualify as a doctor. In the UK there have been concerns raised following cases where patients believed they were being seen by a doctor but in fact it was a PA.

 Dr. Denis McCauley, the new President of the IMO has warned that the role of PAs must be carefully regulated and limited to avoid any risk to patient safety.  He said: “The Irish health service needs more doctors, but we are concerned that PAs may be recruited to mask the shortage of doctors.  The role of the PA can only be to support doctors…not to replace them.”

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