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The study found that physician assistants (PAs) are acceptable, effective and efficient in complementing the work of general practitioners (GPs) in the English primary health-care workforce. PAs were judged competent and safe for the case mix of patients they attended, through consultation record review and observations. Patients reported high levels of satisfaction with PAs as well as with GPs although wished to ensure choice and continuity in primary care professional they consulted. PAs offer another source of mid-level practitioners that should be included in health service workforce planning. Consideration should be given to the appropriate level of regulation for PAs, with the attendant potential to be given the authority to prescribe medicines; this would maximise their contribution within primary care.

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Vari M Drennan,1,* Mary Halter,1 Sally Brearley,1 Wilfred Carneiro,2 Jonathan Gabe,3 Heather Gage,4 Robert Grant,1 Louise Joly,1 Simon de Lusignan,5 

1 Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Kingston University and St George’s University of London, London, UK
2 Directorate of Corporate Affairs, St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
3 Centre for Criminology and Sociology, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK
4 School of Economics, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK
5 Department of Health Care Management and Policy, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK
* Corresponding author ; Email:

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