The RCN says that specialist nurse posts, many of which were lost during the deficits crisis of 2006, save millions of pounds from health budgets through reduced complications, fewer hospital readmissions and the expert long-term management of conditions.
The RCN has conducted a survey of 60 of the leading health organisations and almost 300 of the specialist nurses they represent in order to assess the value and availability of specialist nursing to patients with a wide range of long-term conditions.
Only 36% felt that everyone who needed specialist nursing currently received it.
Of those who identified problems accessing specialist care (49%), the overwhelming majority (69%) reported that specialist nursing services are already overloaded and do not have capacity for new referrals.
Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: ‘Nurses realise that whoever wins the next election will be looking to make savings and to deliver more for less. While the temptation may be to cut or downgrade specialist nursing roles, this would be a false economy which would only add to the growing cost of treating long-term conditions.'
Editor's blog: Do we need more specialist nurses or more district nurses?