Physician Assistants angry at plans to take away their autonomy

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The Ghana Physician Assistants Association has bared its teeth at the Medical and Dental Council and the Ministry of Health over perceived attempts by the two bodies to take away the autonomy of the practice of the Physician Assistant.

In a press statement signed by the president of the association, Emmanuel Yaw Appiah; the general secretary, Peter Eyram Kuenyefu; and the national public relations officer, Peter Kojo Donkoh, they accused the two bodies of “clandestinely and speedily pushing for amendments to the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act 857 (2013) through the Amendment Bill (2019)”.

The statement reminded the Medical and Dental Council and other stakeholders that health service delivery is collaborative.

The statement went further to say that “since Physician Assistants and Certified Registered Anaesthetists were put under the regulation of the Medical and Dental Council, with the enactment of the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act  857 (2018), we have not known peace”.

They accused a section of health professionals of attempting to “ridicule, subdue and obliterate” the autonomy of the practice of the Physician Assistant.

They Association of Physician Assistants went on to list the following reservations against the proposed amendments to Section 43 (subsections 1-3):

  1. It is very unjust and discriminatory to equate a registered practicing physician assistant (irrespective of his/her grade and experience) to a house officer (a student under training) and exempt all from the rights conferred by registration.
  2. In subsection ‘c’ of the above section, the Medical and Dental Council sought to replace professions regulated by the Council and we find it discriminatory as physician assistants attend to some cases that need certificates or documents required by law to be signed. It is expected that whatever legal document or certificate a physician assistant signs, he or she shall also be entitled to recover charges or fees.
  3. Subsections 2 and 3 are orchestrated attempts by the Council, dominated and controlled by Medical Doctors to gag physician assistants and obliterate our scope of practice in the healthcare delivery machinery
  4. Out of the over 1,000 health centres nationwide manned by physician assistants, how many of these physician assistants are directly supervised in their daily clinical services to their clients?
  5. If this bill is passed into law, does a physician assistant have to consult and seek approval from the so-called supervising medical and dental practitioner in absentia before he or she can attend to a client in the rural areas?
  6. Supervision is never done in absentia so these insertions are flawed and should be expunged from

the Bill

  1. The attainment of Universal Health Coverage through Primary Health Care will be a mirage if

physician assistants are not granted that autonomy of practice at the primary healthcare level.

Also, in the proposed amendments to section 50 of the Amendment Bill, we have the following concerns:

  1. Subsection “C” of the Amendment Bill defined a physician assistant as “a specially-trained middle

healthcare professional who practices medicine and dentistry within the scope of practice of that

health professional under the supervision of a designated licensed medical or dental practitioner

and may be in the nature of a middle level health professional formerly referred to as medical

assistant, nurse, anaesthetist or community oral health officer.

They also that the words “under supervision of a designated licensed medical and dental practitioner” to be expunged from the document as all physician assistants who work in the health centres are not supervised, unless MDC wants to say supervision is synonymous to monitoring. As long as the physician assistant acts within his/her scope of practice, he or she is practicing within the ambits of the law.

The Physician Assistants Association ended by calling on the Health Ministry and the Medical and Dental Council to “withdraw the bill as a matter of urgency”.

Source: The Finder

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Kennedy Mornah is an Award Winning Ghanaian Journalist with over two decades of experience in the Ghanaian Media landscape spanning the electronic, print and digital media. He is a Media Consultant, a Corporate MC, Radio and TV Host, Founder and Publisher of the Maritime and Transport Digest Newspaper, Businessman, a Go getter and an optimist. He has worked for renowned media organizations including Diamond Fm in Tamale, Luv Fm in Kumasi, Oman Fm in Accra and Starr Fm in Accra In 2017 he received the Reporter of the Year Award at the Ghana Shippers Awards in Accra, Ghana.

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