Kent, Surrey and Sussex

The KSS School of PAs launched in August 2016 to support the growing number of qualified and student PAs in Kent, Surrey & Sussex.

In November 2014, Health Education England working across Kent, Surrey and Sussex (HEEKSS) recognised the need to train and develop a non-doctor medical workforce. HEEKSS approached Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (SASH), having identified the Trust as a centre of excellence for PAs, and asked for assistance to begin a regional Physician Associate programme.

A programme team was appointed in April 2015 with the remit of advising the local Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) how to develop Physician Associate courses and to engage with local healthcare providers who would be supervising PA students and employing them upon qualification.

The KSS School of PAs launched in August 2016. The school is based at SASH in Redhill, Surrey under the leadership of Dr Natalie King, Consultant in Acute & Elderly Medicine. Commissioned by HEEKSS, it continues the work of the original programme but also provides ongoing support to local universities, their PA students, qualified PAs, and PA employers and supervisors. The school also offers CPD opportunities, supports placements and identifies potential PA career pathways.

Three universities in the region offer postgraduate courses in Physician Associate Studies. They are: Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Surrey and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Now the courses in the region are fully established, the main focus of the school is to support our qualified PAs and their employers to further develop the role.

Please note, we are not an employing or a training organisation in our own right.

The SASH Story

SASH first employed Physician Associates in 2013 following changes made to the on call medical rota to match peak patient demand. The introduction of a twilight shift for medical doctors meant that the number of doctors present on medical wards would be reduced. As a result the Trust was concerned about a loss of continuity and consistency of medical cover. The Trust looked at various options but decided to employ Physician Associates as the skills gap left by the movement of doctors to new shift patterns could be matched by PAs.

In 2013 a cohort of 8 Physician Associates were recruited in Acute Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Cardiology and Respiratory Medicine. Prior to the introduction of PAs at the Trust, only 55% of staff surveyed had any prior knowledge of the role of a PA. Significant groundwork was therefore been undertaken to prepare staff, including presentations at grand rounds and to multidisciplinary teams.

Following the introduction of PAs a similar survey was conducted and the results suggested that the introduction of PAs had led to :

SASH-story

Over the years SASH has increased its PA numbers and is now one of the largest employer of PAs in the region. SASH PAs working across a range of medical specialties, emergency medicine and surgery. SASH also supports student placements from the PA programmes at St George’s University of London, the University of Surrey and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Some of the SASH PAs have been with the Trust for several years and many of their successes rest on the fact that they have become permanent members of staff who have developed along with the entire clinical team over a period of time. Equally, the relationships between PAs and their supervisors have developed and strengthened due to the longevity of these relationships and mutual trust.

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