101Smart Ltd.

Responding to Staffing Demands in the NHS: Developing a Secondary Recovery Assistant Practitioner Role in our Day Surgery Unit

Abi Gunning & Alexandra Alan

Sharon Dyson, Abi Gunning, Alex Alen, Theresa Hinde
Torbay Hospital, Torquay, United Kingdom



Nursing staffing challenges beset many organisations in the NHS including our own. We identified that specified roles on our Day Surgery Unit (DSU) discharge ward could be considered appropriate for Band 4 assistant practitioners, thereby releasing Band 5 nursing time for other activity.


Two band four Assistant Practitioner (AP) roles were created. The training for the AP consisted of a two-year Apprenticeship Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care which was undertaken by two current DSU Band 3 HCA’s
Training included developing competencies in:
• Performing local anaesthetic (LA) preassessments and LA patient discharges
• Administering basic analgesia
• Subcutaneous injections


Our newly trained Band 4 practitioners are actively working in these enhanced roles alongside Band 5 nurses on our DSU discharge ward. They also support Band 3 HCA’s in achieving their competencies.


We now have 2 experienced HCA’s working as assistant practitioners, becoming very experienced in appropriate tasks, providing teaching and releasing Band 5 nursing time. Future competencies to be included in the AP role are; postoperative follow up telephone calls and discharging less complex General Anaesthetic patients. Selected GA pre-assessments, triaged by a new pre-assessment app will also be within the remit. Feedback showed that the course proved very challenging at times. College issues and the end point assessment were among difficulties encountered, however it was felt that gaining more knowledge and enhanced skills within the work environment made everything worthwhile. They proactively support changes in practice and enable efficient use of resources as DSU activity expands.