Introduction to the Surgical Care Practitioners

The role of the surgical care practitioner (SCP) is as a non-medical practitioner, working as part of the extended surgical team, under the supervision of Consultant surgeon. They must be previously registered as a healthcare professional with either the Nursing and Midwifery Council or Health Professions Council.

SCP’s perform a range of duties which can include the ability to examine, clerk and request investigation. They can assist and perform delegated duties in theatres, manage patients postoperatively, adjust treatment plans, discharge and follow-up.

Since the advent of the National Curriculum Framework, trainees can undertake a full time postgraduate programme with a large component taught in the clinical environment. Students have a named Consultant Surgeon as a Clinical Supervisor and are also allocated a mentor who is either a senior SCP or Specialist registrar. Skills can be assessed using a range of work based assessments such as practice based assessments, case base discussions or direct observation of procedural skill. This forms the basis of a portfolio of formative assessments with summative assessments at the end of each semester.

They can also be expected to produce a number of summative written reflective pieces that again assess their progression and academic analysis of current evidence. Many units in the UK are utilising these individuals to help staff there units in complement to their medical staffing. With the advent of the European Working Time Directive and the changes to the structure of Doctor training as part of Modernising Medical Careers, the ability to meet service needs has become increasing difficult. A team of SCP’s can help to meet these service needs, as consistent members of the team implementing service improvements and positively influencing quality of care.

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