Parliamentary update – January 2024

  • Latest news

December saw a statement on regulating physician associates, January has included debates on NHS dentistry and a statement on NHS winter pressures.

Where quote marks appear the words have been directly transcribed from what was said in the Commons chamber or in a written response, where they are not used the content of what was said has been summarised for brevity.

Statement on regulation of physician associates

11 December | read in full

Andrew Stephenson MP, Minister for Health and Secondary Care made a statement to the House of Commons:

  • The Government will regulate anaesthesia associates and physician associates under the GMC, who will have 12 months to consult on and produce the regulatory framework for them.
  • The aim is that “regulation will provide a standardised framework of governance and assurance for clinical practice and professional conduct, to enable these roles to make a greater contribution to patient care. The GMC will have responsibility for and oversight of both doctors and these medical associate roles, allowing it to take a holistic approach to education, training and standards.”
  • Reiterated the Government position that PAs “…can work autonomously, but always under the supervision of a fully trained and experienced doctor.”

Opposition day debate: NHS Dentistry

9 January | read in full

Wes Streeting MP, Lab Ilford North and Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care:

  • Mr Streeting outlined failings in NHS dentistry over the last 14 years.
  • His remarks included a mention of a Labour Parliamentary candidate in Stroud who is a GP and has worked within his ICB to increase the availability of NHS dentist appointments.

Ashley Dalton MP, Lab, West Lancs:

  • “The inability to access a dentist and regular check-ups leads to people having to visit their GP for knock-on health issues, or they are in so much pain that they are forced to end up at an already stretched A&E.”

The Nuffield Trust promoted a briefing sent to MPs prior to the debate, which was referred to several times by Mr Streeting.

Ministerial statement: NHS winter update

8 January | read in full

Rt Hon Victoria Atkins, Con, Louth and Horncastle and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care:

  • Reiterated that additional money had been allocate to the NHS ahead of this winter and listed numbers/types of additional appointments provided.
  • Criticised the BMA and striking junior doctors for making winter pressures worse, including quoting a BMA rep who said that the strikes benefit nobody.
  • The Conservatives have delivered on a manifesto commitment to provide 50 million more GP appointments per year than in 2019.

Mr Streeting:

  • “…patients cannot get an appointment, cannot get the surgery they need and cannot see a GP, NHS dentistry is decaying, and the NHS itself is on life support.”

Richard Foord MP, Lib Den, Tiverton and Honiton

  • Gave an example of two GPs who wish to return from Australia to practice in his constituency, but have to take a number of tests despite being NHS trained and having no career gaps. Mr Foord called for this process to be made easier.