Evaluating new roles within emergency care: a literature review

Int Emerg Nurs. 2011 Jul;19(3):125-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2010.09.003. Epub 2010 Oct 27.


Introduction: In recent years economic and political drivers have strongly influenced the development and introduction of new roles such as medical substitution roles within emergency care in the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK).

Aims: The aims of this literature review were to establish the national and international evidence available which examine the scope of practice of emergency nurse practitioners, emergency care practitioners and extended scope physiotherapists; to establish the national and international evidence which explores patient satisfaction with non-medical roles in emergency care; to establish the national and international evidence which explores the acceptability of emergency nurse practitioner, emergency care practitioner and extended scope physiotherapists services from a healthcare professional perspective.

Methods: A search of the literature was undertaken using BNI, CINAHL plus, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, MEDLINE and SPORTDiscus databases combined with searches of the Cochrane library collection, NICE and the grey literature. Critical assessment of the literature is presented.

Results: A high level of patient satisfaction was found with all the new roles. Interestingly the scope of practice of Emergency nurse practitioners appears to be most limited in the UK. Five major themes were identified from healthcare professionals' perceptions of these new roles.

Conclusion: There is general agreement that non-medical roles help to reduce waiting times in emergency departments, as well as attracting a high level of patient satisfaction, confidence and acceptance of these roles. Several issues were identified which warrant further study; including the current UK evidence surrounding the limited scope of practice of these roles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medical Services / trends*
  • Emergency Nursing / trends*
  • Humans
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom