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British Medical JournalWhy Anesthetists are Calling for an Extraordinary Meeting on Anesthesia Associates

Why is a group of anesthetists calling for a wider debate on increasing the number of anesthesia associates?

The article from BMJ discusses the concerns raised by a group of anesthetists about the increasing number of anesthesia associates in the UK. The anesthetists are calling for a wider debate on this issue, as they believe it could have significant implications for the healthcare sector.

HCN Medical Memo
The proposed increase in the number of anesthesia associates could have significant implications for healthcare professionals. Although it may seem like a solution to the shortage of anesthetists, it could potentially lead to a decrease in the quality of patient care due to the limited scope of practice and knowledge base of these associates. This shift could also demotivate existing and prospective anesthetists who have invested years in their training.

Key Points

  • The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan aims to expand the number of anesthesia associates to 2000 by 2036, a 10-fold increase from now.
  • There is a bottleneck of around 700 anesthetic trainees who are without a higher specialty training post due to poor workforce planning.
  • Some anesthesia associates have higher salaries than doctors who are at the start of their specialty training.
  • The UK is short of anesthetists and the NHS badly needs them to reduce surgical waiting lists.
  • Anesthesia associates don’t have the scientific or academic background, nor the full breadth of knowledge that a doctor develops before even entering anesthesia.

According to data from Health Education England, there has been a 50% increase in the number of applicants for specialty training in anesthesia between 2017 and 2020.

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