The experience of working with anaesthesia associates in the United Kingdom and the impact on medical anaesthetic training

Int J Health Plann Manage. 2022 Sep;37(5):2767-2778. doi: 10.1002/hpm.3502. Epub 2022 Jun 12.

Abstract

Anaesthesia Associates have been established in the UK for over 10 years, but without statutory regulation. Renewed interest surfaced based on a widening gap between patient need and workforce supply in the UK and established advanced practice non-doctor roles within healthcare systems elsewhere. However, there are no robust data on their impact on patient or hospital outcomes, or training opportunities for medical anaesthetists, and perceptions of the profession within the anaesthetic community are mixed. This paper describes an investigation into the demographics and scope of practice of Anaesthesia Associates in the UK in 2017, and the experience of working together as an anaesthetic team. Through qualitative interviews, we explored the role and relationships, the impact on medical anaesthetic training and ideas about future development. The overall experience of working with Anaesthesia Associates was positive. Successful integration requires understanding of the educational needs and competencies of all. Future development relies on strong leadership and robust patient outcome and efficiency measures. Interviewees strongly supported statutory regulation, which was agreed by the government in 2019 but not yet implemented. Anaesthesia Associates were seen as a benefit to anaesthetic departments and as such may provide part of the solution to the prevailing workforce issues in UK Anaesthesia, further critically challenged by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Keywords: anaesthesia; anaesthesia associates; non-doctor roles; training; workforce.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia*
  • Anesthesiology*
  • Anesthetics*
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Kingdom

Substances

  • Anesthetics