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Region’s hospitals and surgeries welcome the first physician associates from UCLan

Newly qualified physician associates will boost healthcare economy throughout the North West

Several hospitals in the region will receive their first ever 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 Diploma Physician Associate Studies, a programme initiated, funded 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 Blackburn Hospital, Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Burnley General Hospital, Carlisle Infirmary, Royal Preston Hospital and West Cumberland Hospital to name a few, as well as GP practices throughout the region. Up until now, only a couple of hospitals and surgeries in the region have employed PAs.

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.

Rebecca Allum relocated from London to join to programme and will be employed at Parkside GP Surgery in Burnley. She said: "I chose to stay in the region to work, not only as I wanted to give back to the area which funded my training but also because I enjoy living here. I was offered a promotion in my last job but decided to leave and train as a PA, I followed my gut instinct and it paid off."

Fellow student Natalie Burgoyne is taking up a role in Blackpool Victoria Hospital in the paediatric unit near to her home in Lytham. She commented: "I am looking forward to developing the role as one of the first PAs in Blackpool Victoria Hospital, being an ambassador for PAs and promoting the profession.”

Munira Patel has secured a job at Royal Preston Hospital in the orthopaedic unit. She is from Blackburn but heard good reviews about Royal Preston and its staff. She said: "I am looking forward to working in a local hospital and giving back to the local community. It is an exciting new role and I am proud to be part of this ground-breaking initiative, paving the way for a new healthcare role.”

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 health care 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.”