The Royal College of Anaesthetists has announced today that it is writing to clinical leaders to request a pause in the recruitment of Anaesthetic Associates. The motions that were passed at the EGM last year are now gaining traction. This adds to the earlier statement from the College which prioritised the training needs of doctors-in-training.

The College is also implementing the second of our motions that relates to local opt-outs from the College’s position on the supervision of AAs.  The position is being set in stone by embedding it in the College’s Guidelines for the Provision of Anaesthetic Services (GPAS), and it will be monitored via the Anaesthesia Clinical Services Accreditation (ACSA) system. Other College documents will also be amended. 

In her letter today the President, Dr Fiona Donald, highlighted that the delay in implementing the EGM had stemmed from legal considerations which have now been resolved. As described earlier in detail, the pause in the recruitment will be a pause in the recruitment of new student AAs, rather than those already in training or qualified. The College will be writing to the Clinical Leaders Network shortly with the details of implementation and the full letter will be published on the RCoA website in due course.

There will also be a request for a pause in the development of enhanced roles. These remain a particular concern for many.

This is a major and important step. Dr Donald and her College colleagues should be congratulated for listening to the concerns expressed by members and taking appropriate action in a fair, just and robust manner, taking into consideration both the issues from anaesthetists and patients alike.  We hope that other specialties will now follow the phenomenal example set by the RCoA.

Anecdotally we have heard that applications for training courses for AAs have already dropped significantly. There must be many who are considering the wisdom of this as a career. We must, however, consider the impact of this development on current AAs and ensure that professional relationships between all members of our team remain positive.

These resolutions will be in place until regulation commences, which is expected to be at the end of the year. This affords the opportunity for all members to have a say in how we can resolve the current crisis, so that we can all be Anaesthetists United,  committed to delivering safe care to our patients.