A plan to train nurses to stand in for doctors as a way to tackle the hospital staffing crisis has caused alarm among doctors and patient groups.
A report by the Nuffield Trust, commissioned by NHS Employers, recommends giving extra training to nurses and other support staff to give them “advance practice roles” or “physician associate” status.
It says this will provide a relatively quick solution to the current shortage of doctors and help ease the workload of more qualified medics.
Junior doctors have said the idea is dangerous while the Patients Association said it should be regarded as a quick fix to plug the NHS’s workforce gap.
The report claims that retraining staff “could provide a cost-effective and rapid solution to mitigating some of the pressures on more senior staff”.
The report envisages a new tier of medical staff between doctors and nurses. “Physician associate represent a new cadre of staff with the potential to address a number of workforce challenges,” it says.
The Patients Association said such proposals should not be seen as a cheaper alternative to hiring highly qualified staff.
Junior doctors, who are involved in a dispute with the government over a new contract, said the plans would put patients’ lives at risk.
Full story in The Guardian 17 May 2016