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Br J Gen Pract. 2015 May;65(634):e344-50. doi: 10.3399/bjgp15X684877.

Physician associates and GPs in primary care: a comparison.

Author information

1
Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Kingston University and St George's University of London, London.
2
Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London.
3
Health Care Management and Policy, University of Surrey, Guildford.
4
Centre for Criminology and Sociology, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham.
5
Directorate of Corporate Affairs, St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, London.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Physician associates [PAs] (also known as physician assistants) are new to the NHS and there is little evidence concerning their contribution in general practice.

AIM:

This study aimed to compare outcomes and costs of same-day requested consultations by PAs with those of GPs.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

An observational study of 2086 patient records presenting at same-day appointments in 12 general practices in England.

METHOD:

PA consultations were compared with those of GPs. Primary outcome was re-consultation within 14 days for the same or linked problem. Secondary outcomes were processes of care.

RESULTS:

There were no significant differences in the rates of re-consultation (rate ratio 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.86 to 1.79, P = 0.25). There were no differences in rates of diagnostic tests ordered (1.08, 95% CI = 0.89 to 1.30, P = 0.44), referrals (0.95, 95% CI = 0.63 to 1.43, P = 0.80), prescriptions issued (1.16, 95% CI = 0.87 to 1.53, P = 0.31), or patient satisfaction (1.00, 95% CI = 0.42 to 2.36, P = 0.99). Records of initial consultations of 79.2% (n = 145) of PAs and 48.3% (n = 99) of GPs were judged appropriate by independent GPs (P<0.001). The adjusted average PA consultation was 5.8 minutes longer than the GP consultation (95% CI = 2.46 to 7.1; P<0.001); cost per consultation was GBP £6.22, (US$ 10.15) lower (95% CI = -7.61 to -2.46, P<0.001).

CONCLUSION:

The processes and outcomes of PA and GP consultations for same-day appointment patients are similar at a lower consultation cost. PAs offer a potentially acceptable and efficient addition to the general practice workforce.

KEYWORDS:

general practitioners; observational study; physician assistants; physicians, family; primary health care

PMID:
25918339
PMCID:
PMC4408498
DOI:
10.3399/bjgp15X684877
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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