• emergency care;
  • emergency nurse practitioner;
  • inter-professional conflict;
  • service development

Aim.  The study reported in this paper aimed at exploring the views of staff and patients of a potential emergency nurse practitioner service in an acute trust in the UK.

Background.  The role of the nurse in emergency care has changed considerably in recent years, and the evolution of the emergency nurse practitioner role has changed emergency service provision dramatically. The emergency nurse practitioner role is not uniformly defined across emergency care in the UK, and the resulting blurring of the role of emergency nurse practitioners with that of emergency department medical staff is not helpful to hospital staff or patients.

Design.  A quantitative and qualitative mixed method design was used that enabled exploration of an individual’s viewpoint within their own practice or natural surroundings.

Method.  Self-completed questionnaires were used to determine health professionals’ opinions, and semi-structured interviews were employed to explore patients’ views.

Results.  A total of 144 health professionals responded to the questionnaire survey giving a response rate of 28·5%, and 10 patients participated in qualitative interviews. Health professionals and patients alike were generally supportive of an emergency nurse practitioner service, but there were some concerns in relation to the role and functions of the emergency nurse practitioner and associated accountability issues.

Conclusions.  This paper contributes further data that demonstrate the inter-professional and patient support of the advanced role of the emergency nurse practitioner and highlights potential conflictual issues and barriers to implementation that can and must be resolved successfully through proper consultation prior to the service being introduced.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This paper provides important information to health professionals and service providers that should help to facilitate the introduction and maintenance of a successful and effective emergency nurse practitioner service in any trust.