Current practice in the United Kingdom (UK) dictates that the administration of a general anaesthetic is undertaken by a physician. However, for several years now the controversial question has been raised as to whether other practitioners, primarily nurse anaesthetists, should also be allowed administer general anaesthetics. The ensuing debate has been refueled in recent times resulting from the trend towards providing cost-effective health care delivery combined with concerns over current and anticipated further shortages in anaesthetic manpower. This paper discusses some of the arguments both for and against the introduction non-physician anaesthetists in the UK, also drawing on the debate in other parts of the world, concluding with a call for more research to address the controversy. First though, because there appears to be some confusion over the difference between the meaning of the titles ‘Anaesthetic Nurse’ and ‘Nurse Anaesthetist’, it will be helpful to provide brief definitions of these terms.