Nurses will be trained to perform surgery under new NHS measures to cut waiting times.
Nursing staff will be urged to undertake a two year course to become “surgical care practitioners” as part of the drive to slash waiting times but critics have warned it will worsen the nursing shortage.
Nurses who qualify will be tasked with removing hernias, benign cysts and some skin cancers, according to the Daily Mail.
They will also assist during major surgeries such as heart bypasses and hip and knee replacements. The re-trained nurses will be tasked with closing up incisions after operations.
The proposals are contained within the NHS’s People Plan, due to be unveiled next month.
Lib Dem health spokesman Munira Wilson said: "This is a sticking plaster solution to very serious staffing crisis across our NHS workforce.'"
However the proposals were backed by Professor Michael Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He said: "We are totally supportive of this. We have very little anxiety about this.”
Accident & Emergency waiting times are the worst since records began, figures revealed in November.
One in six patients waited longer than four hours in A&E in England in October - the worst-ever performance since a target was introduced in 2004.
Just 83.6 per cent of such patients were treated or admitted in four hours, according to the figures from NHS England.
A study by the Health Foundation in November showed the NHS was struggling with a 44,000 shortfall in nurses, and warned there could be a shortage of 100,000 such staff within a decade.
It said as a result, hospitals are relying on less qualified staff – such as healthcare assistants - to fill critical shortages.
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