UHCW recruits the first Physicians’ Assistants in Anaesthesia in Coventry and Warwickshire

In a Coventry and Warwickshire first, two new Physicians’ Assistants in Anaesthesia PA(A) have been employed to look after patients as part of the anaesthetic workforce at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust.

Chris Dewsbury and Matthew Harris started at UHCW in April. They split their time between the operating theatres at University Hospital in Coventry and the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby.

Chris and Matthew have been trained to deliver anaesthesia to adult patients in a wide range of surgical specialities. They work under the supervision of one consultant anaesthetist who in is charge of two theatres, each staffed by a PA(A), ensuring the highest quality care for the patient.

PA(A)s are well-established in the NHS, with around 150 currently employed nationally. Entrants to the stringent 27 month-long postgraduate course are either experienced healthcare professionals or graduates with a science degree.

The benefits to UCHW and its patients are that they work with Consultant Anaesthetists allowing more efficient running of operating lists and therefore more patients to be treated.

With further advanced training, Physicians’ Assistants in Anaesthesia can also go on to perform even more duties such as regional anaesthesia and sedation.

Chris qualified as a Physicians’ Assistant in Anaesthesia two years ago, and joined the Trust from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Matthew qualified six years ago and had previously been working for Heart of England NHS Trust. Before undertaking their training, they both worked as Operating Department Practitioners.

Chris said:
“I really enjoy the Physicians’ Assistant role and being able to care for patients before, during and after surgery. The training for the role is focused on anaesthesia. You have continuous assessment by consultant anaesthetists, with final exams at the Royal College of Anaesthetists in London, so it’s quite an intense 27 months!

“It’s so exciting to be one of the first people in Coventry and Warwickshire in this role.”

Matthew added:
“It’s fantastic how we’ve been embraced by the Trust since we started in April. The anaesthetists and surgeons at both St Cross and University Hospital have really welcomed us joining the team, and the patients have been great too.”

Chris and Matthew have presented to the Theatres department about their role. There are also plans to recruit more Physicians’ Assistants in Anaesthesia in the future, and it’s planned that they will be mentored by Chris and Matthew.