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New professional roles in surgery

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 07 April 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:803
  1. Roger Kneebone, senior lecturer in surgical education (,
  2. Ara Darzi, head
  1. Department of Surgical Oncology and Technology, Imperial College London, St Mary's Campus, London W2 1NY

    Would be effective in selected surgical settings and can offer benefits

    New professional roles in surgery are a controversial issue. Recent publicity surrounding surgical care practitioners has illustrated the extent of hostility in parts of the surgical community.13 Yet the landscape of the NHS is changing radically. External forces such as the European Working Time Directive are having a profound effect on the United Kingdom's healthcare workforce, and maintaining the current situation is not an option.4 5

    The unavoidable reality is that we do not have enough doctors to sustain traditional working patterns. Therefore, developing new professional roles seems a logical response. Moreover, role redesign fits with the government's commitment to widen career opportunities in health care and to develop a flexible training structure based on individual competences rather than traditional pigeonholes such as doctor or nurse.6 7

    Increasing numbers of medically unqualified practitioners are now being trained in surgery related practice, and this is a good time to examine the pros and cons. We write from the …

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