Specialist nurses can be used to increase efficiency and cut costs said nursing lecturer.
Alison Leary, professor in advanced nursing practice and healthcare modelling from London South Bank University, said the NHS should consider investment in nurses with specialist training in advanced practice.
'There is a perception that these nurses are expensive, but actually they are a very good return on investment and there are a lot of studies that show that.'
Over the past seven years Professor Leary with colleagues has looked at the work of around 12,000 specialist nurses in advanced practice and around 50 million hours of work, and they found they are a cost effective, high-quality option in terms of delivering care.
'The nurses are mostly based in acute centres but are moving out to community settings for example in multiple sclerosis and rheumatology. The nurses are community-based but not normally in GP practices, however we know that GP's district nurses, community nurses and other healthcare professionals access them for advice on managing care of patients with complex problems. They are easier to get hold of usually than a hospital specialist.'
She said 30% of a specialist nurse's work was done over the phone so in this way they supported patients in the community and supported community practitioners of all types to manage increasingly complex care needs.
Professor Leary also said that specialist nurses can help patients to understand when they should contact acute services, which can reduce the burden on secondary care and ensure that more care is delivered in the community.
Professor Leary made these comments in a HSJ supplement on the role of specialist nurses published on 27 February.