Barnes H. Exploring the factors that influence nurse practitioner role transition. J Nurse Pract. 2015; 11:(2)178-183

Nurses will be trained to perform surgery under radical plan to slash NHS waiting times and tackle looming crisis of ageing population. 2020. (accessed 19 May 2020)

Cass HD, Smith I, Unthank C, Starling C, Collins JE. Improving compliance with requirements on junior doctors' hours. BMJ. 2003; 327:(7409)270-273 10.1136/bmj.327.7409.270

Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence. Managing extended practice. Is there a place for ‘distributed regulation’?. 2010. (accessed 16 May 2020)

Nurse suspended after ‘taking out man's appendix’. 1995. (accessed 15 May 2020)

The Health Foundation. Support staff and nurses from abroad plugging shortages in NHS workforce. 2019. (accessed 15 May 2020)

The scope of practice, standards and competencies of the advanced practice nurse. ICN Regulatory Series.Geneva, Switzerland: ICN; 2008

Historical perspectives on an expanded role for nursing. 2015. (accessed 16 May 2020)

Nolte K, Hallett CE. Crossing the boundaries. Nursing, materiality and anaesthetic practice in Germany and Britain, 1846–1945. European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics. 2019;

Meet the nurse who will soon perform surgery on patients alone. 2017. (accessed 16 May 2020)

Royal College of Nursing. Advanced level nursing practice. Section 1. The registered nurse working at an advanced level of practice. 2018. (accessed 16 May 2020)

Royal College of Surgeons. The curriculum framework for the surgical care practitioner. 2014. (accessed 16 May 2020)

Zarnitz P, Malone E. Surgical Nurse practitioners as registered nurse first assists: the role, historical perspectives, and educational training. Mil Med. 2006; 171:(9)875-878

Surgical role expansion among the NHS workforce

28 May 2020
6 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 10


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.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content