26th February 2020

Nurses trained to perform surgery

It was reported in the Daily Mail last weekend that the upcoming NHS People Plan proposes nurses will be trained to perform surgery.

In a drive to reduce patient waiting times, nurses will be urged to undertake a two-year course to become surgical care practitioners. Under this proposal, the qualified nurses will be responsible for procedures including the removal of hernias, benign cysts and some skin cancers. 

Additionally, they will also undertake key tasks during major surgery including heart bypasses and hip and knee replacements.

Whilst the plans could help to alleviate waiting times, they have been met with a mixed reception.

It’s important to see beyond the hysteria that news stories such as this can generate. Nursing has a long track record of expanding its remit and taking on additional tasks and activities. Two decades ago, independent nurse prescribing was seen as virtually impossible whereas now there are many practitioners safely prescribing medications to people. It could be argued this is a natural next step in advancing nursing practice. The important things here are that nurses are supported with the appropriate learning and development and that organisations culture and governance enables them to practice effectively.

As a nurse and a workforce developer I have seen many opportunities for specialist and advanced nursing practice; I supported Community Matron development many years ago to undertake tasks and activities which traditionally would be viewed as the exclusive remit of General Practitioners (doctors), this idea across primary care has since become commonplace and SfH has recently launched the advanced clinical practitioner capabilities framework to which I had the honour of supporting its development.

The ever-increasing demands and complexities of societies health care needs mean we need to always consider who does things, not as a fixed concept but always open to innovation. How we best serve the outcomes our patients require should be the first thoughts we have.

To find out more about how our workforce expertise could help your organisation, get in touch today.