Several hospitals in the region have employed newly trained physician associates (PA) to work on the frontline of the NHS thanks to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The first cohort of students from UCLan have completed the postgraduate Physician Associate Studies course, a programme supported and overseen by Health Education England North West.

The newly qualified PAs are now starting work in the region, bringing new medical skills to Lancashire and Cumbria to boost the local healthcare economy. Jobs have been secured at Carlisle Infirmary, West Cumberland Hospital and others in the North West as well as GP practices throughout the region.

The PA is an innovative new health professional role which, whilst not a doctor, works to the medical model and delivers care and treatment within a hospital setting or in GP practices. To qualify for the two-year course, all PA students must have a health/life science related degree or considerable background in health care. UCLan is currently recruiting for the next cohort of trainees to undertake this postgraduate study with courses starting in either February 2019 or September 2019, dependent on the University of choice.

Simon Pritchard, who originally hails from Chester, secured a job at West Cumberland Hospital. He said: “I’ve always wanted to work in clinical anatomy and am looking forward to beginning my career in Whitehaven”.

PAs will work as part of the wider multidisciplinary team supporting patient care delivery.

Fellow student Eniola Bode completed some of her clinical placement at Carlisle Infirmary and now works there as a PA. She said: “My undergraduate degree was in biomedical sciences and while I enjoyed working in a lab, what I really wanted was patient contact so the PA route was ideal. I found Carlisle Infirmary to be very supportive and I feel it will provide a great environment to progress in my career.”

Dr Cathy Jackson, Executive Dean and Head of the UCLan School of Medicine, commented: “The appointment of the new PAs within the region’s hospitals and surgeries represents an important step in improving the region’s healthcare services. I am delighted that the medical school at UCLan, working in partnership with Health Education England, is taking a leading role in this development.

“This is another step in the further development of a highly skilled and sustainable workforce for the area. These graduates will form a part of the wider healthcare team helping to ease some of the pressure from doctors and other clinicians and help in the delivery of high quality safe and effective patient care for the region.”

Interested in finding out more? UCLan is holding an open evening about Physician Associate training on Monday 10th September at 6pm at UCLan Westlakes Campus (near Whitehaven). To attend, please visit our website to register.