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Research proves specialists nurse role is cost-effective

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Latest research confirms that cutting specialist nurse posts is a short-sighted move by trusts that will cost them more in the long term, writes Clare Lomas.

At a time when trusts are seeing specialist nurses as a luxury, a study reveals that nurse-led follow-up care for patients with breast cancer could save NHS trusts millions every year.

The five-year study of 264 Swedish patients with breast cancer showed costs were significantly lower when patients were followed up by specialist oncology nurses rather than doctors.

The cost of follow-up care for patients seen by a doctor was £500 per person per year, compared with just £393 per person per year for
those seen by an oncology specialist nurse.

‘These results showed that follow-up led by specialist nurses, with check-ups on demand, were 20% less expensive than routine
follow-up visits to the physician, said the authors last week at a cancer conference in Berlin, Germany.

Dawn Symonds, lead breast cancer nurse for Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘Nurse-led programmes are definitely more cost-effective because they provide a holistic assessment, continuity of care and a greater overall package.

‘Patients know they can call a nurse if they need to, and this provides a safety net which stops them going to A&E or their GP, which works out much cheaper for the NHS.’

‘Nurses are better communicators, more accessible and a cheaper workforce than doctors,’ added Vickki Hallam, clinical nurse specialist in the breast care unit at St Mary’s Hospital, West London.

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