Over the last few years there has been a precipitous change in the delivery of healthcare within the National Health Service (NHS), which inevitably brought about modification of the nursing role and an adaptation in the professional nursing competencies. It was recognised that vital health improvements that the NHS required could not be made without the advancement of nursing skills and roles (Walsh & Crumbie 2003). In the early 1980s the nurse practitioner’s role was first introduced into general practice, the role has now further developed and changed. Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) are now working in diverse and varied roles within the National Health Service (Crumbie 2008). By accepting new areas of responsibility and accountability requires more from the advanced practitioner than simply a change of uniform and title. There is a need to safeguard the quality in the development and implementation of these roles and continuous evaluation of their success (Whiteing 2008). Since the 1980s there has been considerable amount written in nursing literature regarding the measurement and maintenance of quality nursing care and with the introduction of Clinical Governance (DOH 1998) and the NHS Plan (DOH 2000) the UK government has made it a quality high on the political agenda.
The role of advanced nurse practitioner has developed over recent years to provide a high quality and cost effective care, but at times has caused confusion regarding title, professional boundaries and educational obligations which brings about the question of clinical accountability and the advanced nurse practitioner (Griffin & Mebly 2005).
The Oxford Dictionary (1995) defines the term ‘accountable’ as being ‘responsible; required to account for one’s conduct, and is an integral part of professional practice (NMC 2006b). Accountability can be perceived as being an elevated activity to that of responsibility, as it requires