• advanced neonatal nurse practitioners;
  • advanced nurse practitioners;
  • advanced nursing;
  • advanced nursing practice;
  • intensive care;
  • nursing workforce

Aims.  To provide an overview of the literature relating to the principles, policy and practice of extended nursing roles in UK intensive care settings to date; to review and critically assess evidence of impact, outcomes and effect on practice and provide suggestions for future research.

Background.  It is known that career development opportunities, new technologies, patient needs, as well as the reduction in junior doctors’ hours, are driving the development of new roles for nurses. Policy initiatives aim to expand nursing roles to support professional substitution. In adult, neonatal and paediatric intensive care, specialist trained nurses and designated advanced nursing practitioners are increasingly taking on extended practice of clinical tasks previously undertaken by medical staff. As yet there are no statutory regulations on the perceived scope and definition of the role of extended and advanced roles.

Design.  Systematic review.

Methods.  Search of electronic databases and selection of policy and peer-reviewed reports and reviews of extended nursing roles or advanced nursing practitioners in UK intensive care settings.

Results.  Chronological review shows policy development proceeding in a relatively ad hoc way. There is limited information available about how extensively or effectively extended nursing roles are being implemented in intensive care settings in the UK, particularly in adult and paediatric intensive care. To test local initiative findings for reliability and generalisability, a more robust evidence base is required.

Conclusions.  More data are needed on definition and outcomes of extended nursing roles in intensive care and care process measures should be developed to better inform implementation of nurse role development in the UK.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The review of policy and research evidence in this paper may better inform clinicians working in adult, neonatal or paediatric intensive care, as they continue to be challenged by expansion and development of their role. It may also help to form a basis and evaluation for future research into extended and advanced nursing roles in intensive care settings.