News ID: 235372
Published: 0750 GMT December 07, 2018

C-sections in the UK to be performed by healthcare assistants, report predicts

C-sections in the UK to be performed by healthcare assistants, report predicts
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The rise in robotic surgery could see caesarean sections performed by healthcare assistants rather than surgeons in five years time, medical leaders have said.

A report by the Royal College of Surgeons predicts that healthcare assistants, who sit below nurses in the clinical pecking order, will be responsible for carrying out key parts of the major procedure undergone by roughly one in four mothers, wrote.

Specialist obstetricians and surgeons will remain in charge, although they will not necessarily be present in the operating theatre all the time.

The Future of Surgery report – the product of three years’ research – argued that advances in big data and robotic surgery means machines will be able to standardize an ideal method of performing c-sections that can be easily taught to healthcare assistants.

Such workers already perform tasks such as stitching up wounds in A&E, and they may soon be allowed to perform internal investigations such as endoscopies.

“These are highly skilled professionals who are very capable of taking on some of these techniques,” said Richard Kerr, a neurosurgeon who led the Royal College commission.

He added: “You could have medical surgeons, doctors surgeons, overseeing medical procedures but hands off.”

But the idea has prompted criticism from some patient groups.

Joyce Robbins, from Patient Concern, said: “This development is most alarming and fills me with horror.

“I want to be sure when I go into hospital for an operation that I will be treated by a fully qualified surgeon.”

The report also predicted that improvements in genomic understanding will reduce the number of cancer patients requiring serious operations such as a mastectomy, and that when they are performed these procedures will be less invasive because due to innovations such as “micro-robots” working on individual cells.

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Technology has the potential to revolutionize the National Health Service (NHS) by equipping staff with life-saving tools, preventing diseases before they develop and empowering patients to take greater control of their own health.”

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