Finding a solution to the workforce crisis

Consultant editor of Emergency Nurse Tricia Scott discusses the options for emergency care staff

With increasing patient attendances, there is a real need to consider how we address the challenges facing the emergency-care workforce – particularly how the system can survive the shortage of doctors.

It is a strategic priority for Health Education England (HEE) to ensure an emergency-care workforce with the right numbers, skills and behaviours, but also one that can respond to the changing patterns of service.

Finding a solution

Possible solutions include increasing the number of trainees, introducing the role of physician’s associate and developing the role of advanced practitioners.

Advanced practitioners are understood to be experienced professionals who have developed expert, evidence-based knowledge to make complex clinical decisions for patients presenting with a wide range of life-threatening and self-limiting pathologies.

However, the educational preparation needed for the role and how best to assure safe standards of advanced practice have been debated by professional and regulatory bodies for more than three decades.

This month, Erin Dean explains a new credentialing system introduced for advanced clinical practitioners (ACPs) by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM).

Under the scheme, a practitioner is required to complete an e-portfolio and provide evidence to a trained panel of assessors of at least 20 consultant assessments. Candidates must also complete a recognised life-support course. If successful, they receive a certificate and are listed on an RCEM register.

New launch

The RCN has endorsed the Emergency Care ACP Curriculum, co-produced by RCEM and HEE, while preparing to launch this month its own credentialing scheme for advanced nurse practitioners.

The standardisation of advanced practice in emergency care nationally is to be welcomed as a way to address the current workforce crisis, but it will be taken up by nurses, or other healthcare professionals, only if it is recognised by employers across the country.

Tricia Scott is principle lecturer and emergency care research lead at the Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, and consultant editor of Emergency Nurse