Clear definition of advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) in Scotland is needed to sustain the NHS, said RCN Scotland.
The report, outlining the 'crucial' role of ANPs, identified the workforce as a key resource in sustaining the NHS in both primary and secondary care.
However, Nurse innovators - Clinical decision-making in action identified steps that need to be taken by the Scottish Government, health boards and from integration joint boards in order for ANPs to drive forward clinical leadership.
These include clear definition of the ANP role, consistent training and development, professional support, long-term investment and workforce planning, a change in culture and more research into the workforce. The report highlights that in the absence of an NMC definition of the ANP role, the RCN should explore the development of an accreditation or fellowship scheme for ANPs.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Scotland Director Theresa Fyffe said: 'There's a huge and largely untapped potential for advanced nurse practice to contribute to, and lead, new ways of delivering health and care services to ensure they're sustainable into the future. Our report – and the accompanying stories from those on the frontline – provides substantial evidence of how ANPs currently in senior clinical decision-making roles are already contributing to the delivery of safe, high-quality, person-centred care in communities across Scotland and points a way forward for the future sustainability of our health services.
Comments from ANPs in the report highlight that they are about complementing doctors not replacing them. ANPs are more about delivering holistic care for the patient and are more cost-efficient in the long-term than employing locum doctors. Patients also stated that they preferred to be seen by an ANP and studies have shown that patient satisfaction was higher for nurse-led care.