Nurses in the UK will be trained to perform minor surgical procedures in a radical plan to slash NHS waiting times.
Nurses with a minimum 18 months post registration experience will be encouraged to undertake a two-year course to become a “surgical care practitioner” (SCP), and will be able to perform surgical procedures such as wound closure, removing some skin cancers, harvesting veins and carpel tunnel surgery.
The Royal College of Surgeons in the UK describes the scope of practice of SCP’s – who have been around since the early 1990s – as pre-, peri- and post-operative environment, including theatre, wards and clinics, usually within a specific surgical specialty.
New plans to actively recruit for the role will be announced by the UK government in its “NHS's People Plan” this month.
The NHS is currently struggling with an ever-increasing demand for services and with 4.42 million patients on the waiting list at the end of September, the highest number ever, the government is desperate for a fix.
The Daily Mail UK reported that there are already 800 surgical care practitioners working in hospitals in the UK, but leading surgeons say there will need to be “thousands” before a reduction in wait times is felt.
In the lead-up to the UK general election last year it was reported that the NHS was experiencing a nurse deficit of 43,000, and there is some debate as to where the nurses will be found to fill these SCP positions.
Lib Dem health spokesman Munira Wilson said: “This is a sticking plaster solution to very serious staffing crisis across our NHS workforce.”
Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said: “We are totally supportive of this. We have very little anxiety about this.
“A lot of the procedures are very reproducible, straightforward, very important, but they are relatively small operations that can be managed quickly and efficiently.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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