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Surgical role expansion among the NHS workforce

28 May 2020
6 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 10

Abstract

Professor Alan Glasper, from the University of Southampton, discusses the new government initiative to train nurses and other healthcare staff to become surgical care practitioners

As an orthopaedic nursing student in the late 1960s, I found myself suturing complex facial and other lacerations, applying plaster of Paris splints for fractures, trephining nails, applying collodion splints, removing skeletal pins, venepuncture, applying traction and more. When I started training as a general nurse in 1970, I was surprised that I was not allowed to undertake similar procedures. I now realise that the orthopaedic hospital I worked in had few junior doctors and consequently the orthopaedic surgeons delegated a whole raft of procedures to nurses.

I mention this in the context of newspaper reports (Borland, 2020) that, as part of the long-awaited NHS people plan, which was due last year, the government is expected to announce that it will encourage nurses and other healthcare workers to undergo additional training to enable them to perform surgery. Nurses with aptitude will be offered the opportunity to undertake a 2-year course to enable them to become surgical care practitioners (SCPs) as part of an ambition to tackle surgical waiting times.

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