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LSBU expert argues for investment in specialist nurses

Alison Leary, an expert in advanced nursing practice, shares her views on the crucial need for extra investment in specialist nurses by the NHS
02 March 2015

The NHS must consider investment in nurses with specialist training in advanced practice to ultimately reduce costs and increase efficiency, according to an expert in healthcare at London South Bank University (LSBU).

Interviewed in a dedicated supplement for the Health Service Journal (HSJ), Alison Leary – professor of healthcare modelling at LSBU who has researched the work done by specialist nurses in advanced practice – argues that misconceptions have arisen around the use of the expert group that are hampering their perceived value and impact.

Specialist nurses in Advanced Nurse Practice are trained to post-graduate level with advanced clinical education, knowledge, skills, and scope of practice in nursing. The specialists provide expert management of specific conditions, co morbidities and treatment pathways, often as part of a multidisciplinary team with a focus on improving patient care and developing services.

Professor Leary said: "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.

"Together with colleagues, I have looked at the work of 12,000 specialist nurses in advanced practice, around 50million hours of work, and they are a cost effective, high-quality option in terms of delivering care.

"With just small investments in education and administrative support, we could grow and develop this workforce. It is a solution, not a cost and problem."

The HSJ supplement Time for some advanced thinking?: The benefits of specialist nurses was published on 27 February and pulls together the opinions of patients, researchers, academics healthcare managers and those working in charities and patient support groups – as well as nurses themselves – to discuss the differences specialist nurses make.

Professor Leary added: "The changes to the health service in the last ten years mean that these people are pivotal to running services in long term conditions and managing very complex caseloads."