A Descriptive Survey to Explore Non-Medical Practitioner Roles in Acute Healthcare Settings within the United Kingdom (UK)

  • Jennifer Abraham

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


Healthcare in the United Kingdom (UK) has undergone significant change which has led to workforce redesign, the extending and advancement of existing health professional boundaries and development of new roles. Of particular note has been the emergence of Non-Medical Practitioner (NMP) roles, designed to enable clinical responsibilities traditionally undertaken by doctors, to be completed by others.

The study aimed to explore the development and integration of NMP roles in acute healthcare settings within the UK from an organisational and NMP perspective.

Literature Review
A systematic approach to the literature search resulted in the critical appraisal and synthesis of 10 relevant studies which examined NMP roles in the UK.

A descriptive survey was undertaken to explore the development, integration, recruitment, education and clinical governance of NMP roles in the UK.

Study A purposively explored NHS (n=156) and Private/Independent (n=90) organisations in England. Study B investigated NMPs in the UK through convenience and snowballing approaches. Self-completed semi-structured online questionnaires were used to collect the data from the respondents. Ethical approval was obtained from Coventry University.

A total of 23/246 useable questionnaires were returned from healthcare organisations (Study A) and 96successfully completed questionnaires were returned by NMPs (Study B). After descriptive analysis using SPSS and thematic analysis seven NMP roles were identified, distributed throughout the UK. NMPs positively contribute to improving services and patient care. Inconsistencies were found in regulation, grading, education and understanding of NMP roles.

Further, qualitative research is recommended to explore health professionals, patients and NMPs experiences and attributes of the NMP role. Further quantitative research is recommended to capture NMPs clinical activities and responsibilities.

This study fully met the objectives and contributes further to the evidence identifying the value of NMPs as part of the healthcare workforce within the UK. NMPs are perceived to positively improve services and patient outcomes. It has highlighted that NMP roles are commonly undertaken by experienced practitioners. Development is affected by service delivery and national policies. However, several areas of concern were raised which affect integration including clinical governance, regulation, education and understanding of the NMP role.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorRosie Kneafsey (Supervisor), Becky Whiteman (Supervisor), Jane Coad (Supervisor) & Elizabeth Bailey (Supervisor)

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