Advanced non-medical roles within surgery and their engagement with assistive health technologies
The role of the surgical care practitioner (SCP) is common in UK surgical centres. The SCP curriculum is robust and well developed in multiple specialties since it was first developed in 1989. The SCP role can often concentrate on technical skills, developing a skillset that is highly effective during traditional open surgical procedures. This skillset requires further investigation because technology-assisted surgeries are becoming more common, including the use of novel approaches to developing non-technical skills. To effectively develop this skillset, analysis of robust advanced practice frameworks is necessary, alongside clear alignment to the advanced practitioners' professional regulations. This article examines the interpretation of the advanced practice concept within technology-assisted surgeries, which is potentially guiding the evolution of advanced practice within operating theatres and improving patient care.
Since the NHS was formed in July 1948, it has undergone continual development to improve effectiveness and to modernise, including advancing non-medical roles to enhance patient care (Abraham, 2013). Contemporary guidance, including the NHS Constitution (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) (2015) and the NHS Long Term Plan (NHS England/NHS Improvement, 2019), has advocated increased collaboration with service users, while the DHSC (2022) and the Topol (2019) review provide useful frameworks for increased modernisation and digitalisation.
The report, Reshaping the Workforce to Deliver the Care Patients Need (Imison et al, 2016), acknowledged the need for improved provision of a dynamic, highly reactive workforce, signposting the increasing use of non-medical professionals in advanced roles to enhance NHS capacity while maintaining quality. Furthermore, the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCSEng) (2016) predicted an increase in the use of assistive technologies in surgery, which would require additional advanced perioperative roles.
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