A Birmingham academic has backed the creation of a new medical profession, pitched between a doctor and a nurse, which could help address staffing shortages in Australia.
Professor William Doe, dean of medicine at Birmingham University, believes medical care practitioners (MCPs) could help meet the challenges of changing demographics and working patterns.
Based on physician assistants (PAs), who are licensed to practise medicine with physician supervision in the United States, MCPs could help bridge recruitment gaps.
American PAs were successfully brought over to the Black Country recently to help ease the pressure on GPs treating their patients.
Prof Doe believes MCPs could not only improve the stability and flexibility in the medical workforce, but may also provide an alternative option to newly-qualified nurses struggling to find a job after graduation as a result of the NHS financial crisis.
The academic, whose study was published in the Medical Journal of Australia, said: "MCPs have been developed as a new way to deliver acute, frontline care and will work in a similar way to physician's assistants in the US.
"There are pressure points in the GP health system, particularly in the Black Country, which is why this role could play a vital role in delivering care."