Adviceline: advanced critical care practitioner

Alex Gatehouse describes the joys and challenges of working as an advanced critical care practitioner.

An advanced critical care practitioner (ACCP) is a highly skilled professional within the critical care medical team, conducting extensive assessment and management of patients with acute life-threatening conditions. Training is available to any UK-registered allied healthcare professionals, although most ACCPS are nurses. Articles like this one suggest growing numbers of physiotherapists are now training too. 
After 12 years as a physiotherapist, primarily within critical care, I qualified in 2014 as one of the first ACCPs from this background. I then completed my non-medical prescribing and a master’s degree in advanced clinical practice. My post is rotational, working between four adult specialised critical care units in a large, dual-site teaching hospitals trust. I work on the junior doctor rota as part of the medical team, supervised by the duty consultant.
Clinical challenges range from high-dependency medical patients to complex, post-operative surgical patients; neurotrauma to burns; end-of-life care to all forms of organ and haematological transplantation. I relish and embrace the high level of critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving required of me as an autonomous practitioner. My knowledge and skills are challenged on a daily basis, enabling me to learn and progress. I am fortunate to be part of a fantastic team, with vital support from my consultant colleagues.
The career path is not yet well established but this leads to opportunities to advance the ACCP role, locally and nationally. Limited non-medical prescribing of controlled drugs is frustrating, although the list physiotherapists can prescribe is under consultation between the CSP and NHS England. Governance by one body, rather than the Nursing and Midwifery Council or Health and Care Professions Council, dependent upon previous profession, is desirable. The government’s recent announcement that ACCPs statutory regulation is not proportionate is disappointing and I believe further consultation is essential.
Spend some time with ACCPs and you may find yourself tempted to join this evolving and expanding group. 
  • Alex Gatehouse is an advanced critical care practitioner, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust
Alex Gatehouse an advanced critical care practitioner, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust

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