Demand for advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) has increased by 64% between quarter one and quarter two in 2015 according to analysis from a healthcare recruiter.
There is no data to show specifically that the number of nurses practitioners has increased or whether the number of trusts using ANPs has increased, just that the use of nurse practitioners has increased. MSI Group's data shows that the number of 'hours booked' by ANPs working through the agency has risen by 64% at the beginning of 2015.
MSI Group research states that the rise is due to the NHS restructuring as well as the recent spate of GP shortages.Government initiatives to drive NHS efficiency levels, coupled with an acute shortage of GPs mean that ANPs are now taking on a significantly greater role in the delivery of patient care not only within GP surgeries, but also in A&E departments, minor injury units and other out of hours services.
The Five Year Forward View outlined structural changes to the NHS such as cutting hospital admissions and assisting discharge into the community. This meant that responsibilities that were once left for doctors such as diagnosis, prescribing drugs and referring patients are now increasingly being taken on by nurses.
Nick Simpson, CEO of MSI Group, said: 'Although the use of nurse practitoners has been steadily rising over the past decade it is only in recent months that we have experienced a real boom in demand.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has estimated a fourfold increase in unfilled GP posts since 2010, and Government proposals to create a "truly seven-day NHS" will only exacerbate current shortages.
'Trusts are responding by bringing on board ANPs to manage existing workload, while simultaneously taking precautions against unnecessary hospital admissions further along the line.
'ANPs have just one years' less training than a doctor, and are able to diagnose, treat, prescribe drugs, and discharge patients as well as suture, interpret x-rays, and write care plans. With this in mind, trusts are taking advantage of the cost savings that the use of ANPs can offer, which typically represent a 30% saving when compared to the use of GPs.'
The data comes as RCN Scotland, released a report last week outlining the key role of ANPs in the NHS and urging more consistent training and a clearer definition of the role in Scotland.