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RCS England and RCS Edinburgh to partner in programme of work to support Surgical Care Practitioners

13 Aug 2021

The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), as the surgical bodies currently championing and supporting the work of Surgical Care Practitioners (SCPs), wish to announce that they are working jointly on a new bi-collegiate project intended to better support and assist SCPs in being recognised and granted formal regulation by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Entitled ‘Supporting the extended surgical team’, the project signals an ongoing commitment by both Colleges to collaborate more effectively and, specifically, to continue to promote and support the extended surgical team and the vital work they do in delivering safe surgical care to patients.

SCPs are one of the four roles named as Medical Associate Professions (MAPs). The UK government has agreed to support statutory regulation by the GMC for two of these roles, namely Physician Associates (PA) and Anaesthesia Associates (AA). This decision was made primarily on the basis that the majority of practitioners in these categories are currently from a non-healthcare background and therefore are not subject to regulation.

In contrast, SCPs are registered healthcare professionals, typically from a nursing or operating department practitioner background, and are regulated by either the Nursing and Midwifery Council or the Health and Care Professions Council. Both regulators are highly experienced and competent in their approach to regulation.

However, given the diverse role of an SCP who is likely to be now working towards a medical model of care often with a consultant surgeon as their clinical and educational supervisor, the Colleges are supportive of their regulation being the same as other professional roles within the Medical Associate Professional group.

In response, RCS England and RCSEd are working together to produce the following:

  • A revision of the MSc in Surgical Care Practice curriculum intended to align with a new career framework for SCPs. This is currently under development via Health Education England (HEE) and Medical Associate Oversight Board;
  • The development of a Managed Voluntary Register for SCPs, which has been an important step towards statutory regulation for other MAPs groups but will also ensure that consistent standards of postgraduate education and training for SCPs are developed across the UK.

The project will be run on a bi-collegiate basis with RCS England and RCSEd as equal partners in all aspects of this development, and in collaboration with a range of partner organisations such as HEE, the higher education institutions who will deliver the curriculum, and SCP representatives, who have been invited to participate in shaping the project outcomes and who are all welcome contributors to the project.

It is intended that the project will not only support SCPs but also the wider surgical team. In particular, junior doctors and surgical trainees will benefit from their expertise, and as SCPs provide further service resource for patient care, it will enable surgical trainees to attend teaching or theatres and assist employers in managing the service needs within their organisations. It will also offer support and clarity to existing regulators in providing a consistent approach to supporting SCPs.

We would welcome engagement from other stakeholders to ensure that the project brings value to all, please do contact us with your comments and feedback. 

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