Physician Associates (PAs) have been employed in Kent, Surrey and Sussex since 2005.
As of 2015 Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH) is the largest employer of Physician Associates in the region. Originally the predominant reason for employing Physician Associates at SASH, was to improve continuity on a ward level due to a need to alter the medical rota to match peak demand times. With broadening of the foundation programme (for junior doctors) to include community placements, additional PAs have helped to enhance the medical workforce at the Trust and reduce the need for costly locum spending.
In November 2014 Health Education England working across Kent, Surrey and Sussex (HE KSS) recognised the need to train and develop additional NHS professionals. HE KSS approached SASH, having identified them as a centre of excellence for PAs, and asked for their help in commencing a regional Physician Associate programme. A programme team was appointed in April 2015 with the remit of advising the local Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) how to develop Physician Associate courses and engaging with local healthcare providers who would be supervising PA students and employing them on qualification.
The KSS School of PAs will officially launch in April 2016 and is the first of its kind. Commissioned by HE KSS, it will continue the work of the original programme but also provide ongoing support to the local Universities, their PA students, qualified PAs in the region and PA employers and supervisors. The KSS School of PAs is based at SASH. Dr Natalie King, Consultant in Acute & Elderly Medicine has been appointed as Head of School.