RCGP Research FAQs

Research by Design research FAQs for RCGP 


Why is RCGP undertaking this research?  

The RCGP is seeking views from members (including AiTs) on the role of Physician Associates (PAs) in general practice settings in the UK, including their scope of practice and supervision arrangements.  


The role of PAs in general practice was most recently discussed with RCGP Council in March 2024. In addition to setting out an updated RCGP position and strengthened red lines in relation to PAs, Council also voted to support the College undertaking a member consultation on the role of PAs in general practice in order to inform the production of additional College owned guidance. 


The survey aims to gather the views and experiences of RCGP members. It purposefully includes a broad range of options in each question to collect as much information as possible to help inform the internal Task and Finish Group which will be developing subsequent guidance, and this will be taken to RCGP Council for approval prior to publication. 


This consultation seeks to understand how PAs currently work in general practice, including what types of work they undertake and what supervision is in place. It also considers the potential benefits, and challenges and concerns related to the PA role in general practice. Building on this, it seeks to establish views on what framework and parameters should be in place to ensure PAs can work safely and effectively in general practice, and what guidance is needed from RCGP to this end.

What assurances do I have that Research by Design is a bona fide market research company? 

Research by Design is an independent market research company that has been commissioned by RCGP to undertake research on its behalf. Research by Design operates under the Market Research Society’s (MRS) Code of Conduct, which ensures that research participants’ anonymity is protected, and that information provided is kept strictly confidential. 


Research by Design’s website is: https://researchbydesign.com/ 


What about data protection? 

Research by Design is registered as a Data Controller to undertake research in any field, including market, health, lifestyle, scientific or technical research, under the UK GDPR, the EU GDPR, and the Data Protection Act 1998 as applicable; registration number Z5405593.  


Research by Design is committed to meeting the requirements of the following laws and codes:  


  • The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR)  
  • The EU General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR)  
  • Data Protection Act 2018  
  • ICC/ESOMAR (European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research) International Code on Market and Social Research 


You can review Research by Design’s privacy policy here: Privacy Policy 


What type of research has been commissioned? 

An online survey will be distributed via email to all current RCGP members who are training as a GP in the UK and those who have practised as a GP in the UK. The questions relate to the UK NHS (HSC in Northern Ireland) context. 


Is the online survey secure? 

Respondent data is encrypted in transit (via HTTPS) and is stored encrypted in EU data centres. 


How will I be invited to participate in the online survey? 

The survey is available online with personalised invitations to participate sent by email. Each email contains a survey link allowing the recipient to be directed straight to their own version of the online survey. Reminder emails are sent at intervals throughout the fieldwork period to help encourage participation. Reminder emails are automated and The RCGP will not know who has participated in the research and who has chosen not to. An opt out will be included for those who wish not to receive any reminders.  


Is my anonymity assured? 

The survey is anonymous – neither your name or College membership number will be asked for, nor identifiable demographic information collected. The link provided in the email invitation is unique to you to ensure the integrity of the results, however, your responses will be submitted directly to Research by Design and the unique identifier will be removed before results are shared with the College. 


What if I am a member and have not received a link to take the survey? 

If you haven’t received the survey and believe you should have, please contact RCGP to arrange a link to be sent to you via [email protected]. 


How long might the online survey take? 

The survey is likely to take around 15-20 minutes to complete, but this does depend on the answers you provide and the number of comments you wish to make. 


Can I re-enter the online survey to make amendments or continue where I left off? 

If the survey has not been submitted (by pressing ‘submit’ on the final page) you can log back into the survey using the link on the emails to continue where you left off at any time. Each time you move to a new page of the survey your responses are saved.  


Once you have submitted the survey, amendments are not possible; if you wished to make revisions once you have pressed ‘submit’, you would have to contact Research by Design to discuss the options available. 


How do I return my survey to Research by Design? 

Once you have reached the final page of the survey you will be provided with a submit button at the bottom of the page. Your responses will be sent automatically to Research by Design. If you do not complete the survey, then your saved answers may still be used in the analysis as a partial response. 


How will my responses be used? 

All responses from the online survey will be aggregated and reported together. Free text insights will be reported thematically. All responses will remain anonymous and confidential. Specific comments will not be attributed to any individual (unless agreed otherwise). 


For those that wish to speak to RCGP about the research, please contact [email protected]. 


To speak to Research by Design about the research, please contact Ben Harris ([email protected]) or call 0121 643 9090. 

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