Department of Health

Website of the Department of Health

Please note that this website has a UK government access keys system.

National practitioner programme

  • a new healthcare professional role will support AHPs in hospitals and primary care settings
  • AHPs can also apply to train as medical care practitioners (MCPs)

Practitioner roles have developed in response to major changes in healthcare to help doctors, nurses and allied health professionals treating patients in both hospitals and primary care settings.

The National Practitioner Programme (NPP) comprises projects that developed these new roles as part of the former NHS Modernisation Agency's Changing Workforce Programme.

One type of advanced practitioner being developed is the Medical Care Practitioner (MCP) who, after rigorous extra education and training, would perform duties similar to junior doctors in support of the medical team.

Lead workforce designer Robert Standfield said: "Some AHPs may see this route as a possible career pathway. AHPs who want to do the course would have to go through the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning process. But more important is the recognition that this type of practitioner will be part of the workforce of the future and will be working within their teams to deliver improved access and give highly-trained doctors more time to manage and treat complex cases."

The NHS is currently supporting eight trainee MCPs at three pilot sites in London.

The curriculum framework for MCPs, similar to US-style physician assistants, outlines the national educational and practice standards and proposed regulatory framework that healthcare workers will need to meet before being able to treat patients. They would also have to work under supervision by a senior physician such as a hospital consultant or GP.

Patients will benefit from shorter waiting times and improved access as MCPs will add capacity within medical teams and manage care in partnership with and across the larger healthcare team.

Medical Care Practitioner training

The new role of Medical Care Practitioner means that after rigorous additional training and under the continuous supervision of a physician, healthcare professionals will be able to:

  • obtain full medical histories and perform appropriate physical examinations
  • diagnose, manage and treat illnesses within their competence
  • request diagnostic tests and interpret the results
  • provide patient education and preventative healthcare advice regarding medication, common problems and disease management issues
  • decide on appropriate referral to, and liaison with, other professionals.

Access keys