RACS has welcomed the opportunity to provide comment on the Surgical Assistant Working Group Draft Final Report.

In summary:

  • Surgeons are best placed to determine who can surgically assist with reference on the complexity of the procedure, the assistant’s level of competence and available local workforce.
  • RACS recommends that non-medical surgical assistants, with the appropriate training and experience, can be utilised in settings where there is a limited pool of medically trained surgical assistants, especially in the rural, regional and remote settings. Non-medical surgical assistants refer to registered nurses, perioperative nurse surgical assistants and nurse practitioners, that have appropriate training and experience in surgical assisting.
  • Expanding MBS eligibility to non-medical surgical assistants, with the appropriate training and experience is importanttoequity for rural patients andrural surgeons’ financial sustainability.
  • Current highly experienced, rural, non-medical surgical assistants can be recognised by a legacy clause as part of the MBS eligibility. Any formal Masters’ qualification should not be onerous for rural health services to support their nurses through.
  • RACS is best placed to define what constitutes adequate past experience and adequate training for a nurse surgical assistant. This should be determined prior to implementation of any MBS changes.
  • RACS can play a significant role in developing training, accreditation and credentialing of non-medical surgical assistance education programs with funding from government.