Anaesthetic Practitioner

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Information provided is designed to support potential and existing anaesthetic practitioners and those who support them in practice to deliver high quality perioperative care.  

This includes: 

The Role of an Anaesthetic Practitioner
Anaesthetic Practitioners

Anaesthetic Practitioners play a valuable role within the theatre workforce, contributing to the delivery of safe, effective and person-centred care. 

They are trained to assist the anaesthetist from induction to immediate post-theatre recovery of the patient. Anaesthetic Practitioners are named assistants who are present for the entire theatre list, and whose priority is to aid the anaesthetist.  

In NHSScotland, the role can be undertaken by either a registered nurse who has met the core competencies for anaesthetic practitioners, or an operating department practitioner (ODP). 

Anaesthetic practitioners are level 5 practitioners who:  

are registered practitioners consolidating pre-registration experience and preparing for a higher level of function. 

have a comprehensive, specialised, factual and theoretical knowledge within the perioperative environment and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge.  

can use knowledge to solve problems creatively, make judgements which require analysis and interpretation, and actively contribute to service and self-development.  

may have responsibility for supervision of staff or training 

The two professional bodies who oversee anaesthesia in the UK – The Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) and the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGB&I) have mandated that anaesthetists should be assisted by an appropriately trained and dedicated anaesthetic practitioner.  

Career Pathway

Those who want to consider a role as an anaesthetic practitioner, you should first be an adult nurse registered with the NMC. 

Registered nurses, preparing for the role of anaesthetic practitioner in NHSScotland must complete The Core Competency Framework for Anaesthetic Practitioners 2024 

Registered nurses who have the support of their employing Board can apply for an accelerated workforce programme for Anaesthetic Practitioners. This programme provides additional learning in a range of areas, including immersive simulation. Through high quality training and education, learners will complete the programme ready to join the theatre workforce and deliver safe and patient-centred care.

Ongoing career development can happen in different ways. Anaesthetic practitioners may choose to develop higher levels of responsibility, knowledge and skills and progress through the career levels within the Perioperative Career Development Framework, for example progressing to be a surgical first assistant or remain at the same level but build on existing experience, knowledge and skills.

More information on Anaesthetic Careers
Developments - review of the role title

Acknowledging the challenge presented in similar names for clinicians working in anaesthesia, review of the role title Anaesthetic Assistant has been undertaken by the Chief Nursing Officer Directorate (CNOD) in Scotland. 

Please note that the role title Anaesthetic Assistant has changed to Anaesthetic Practitioner, as per the Directors Letter 2023 10

Core Competency Framework for Anaesthetic Practitioners 2024

The Core Competency Framework for Anaesthetic Practitioners 2024 sets out the core competencies that registered nurses, preparing for the role of anaesthetic practitioner in NHSScotland must achieve.   You will find full details in the framework work section of the site. 

Professional bodies

The two professional bodies oversee anaesthesia in the UK: