Surgical care practitioners: an audit across the surgical specialties
The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS), when devising their curriculum for surgical care practitioners (SCPs), aimed to provide a level of training to produce a practitioner able to work across the surgical patient's journey, providing care to, arguably, an advanced level. This audit planned to examine the reality of this.
SCPs from a closed group, on the Facebook social media platform were invited to complete an online questionnaire about their role as an SCP.
A total of 92 responses were gathered from across the surgical specialty SCP community and from around the UK. Data were collected on the breakdown of the SCP's role and working practices.
The data collected demonstrated the multifunctional nature of the SCP and their ability to work at a level as envisioned by the RCS curriculum.
Like many aspects of health care, surgery is undergoing a period of change. The introduction of new technologies, economic pressures and constant efforts to reduce patient waiting times have all contributed to major changes to the delivery of care. The European Working Time Directive (Department of Health (DH), 1998) triggered a shift in the cultural climate, as established patterns of care and training became unsustainable under the new regulations (Datta and Davies, 2014). Role redesign was a possible solution, identifying a need for additional, non-medical practitioners to provide an extended range of services outside of their traditional roles. Training programmes for several such roles therefore had to be developed and evaluated. More recently, this has led an umbrella term being used to categorise this emerging group, ‘medical associate professions’ (MAPs) (DH, 2017).
This development has not been without criticism. Concerns have been raised regarding the impact on doctors' training opportunities and the siphoning off of experienced frontline healthcare staff, but this has not been demonstrated by research to date (Quick, 2013; Briffa, 2019).
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