The Department of Health have also launched guidelines for the development of 'Nurses with Special Interests’.
The guidelines, entitled 'A Framework for Nurses with a Special Interest', envisages that Nurses with Special Interests will have additional expertise in their field and can be developed by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) to improve patient care and increase local primary care capacity. PCTs, as commissioners and providers of services, are encouraged to consider the additional value nurses can bring to help meet the needs of patients.
A nurse in a specialist role may work across a number of practices providing a secondary care service to patients across the community or within one or several PCTs. Alternatively, a specialist nurse might work from a hospital trust or community hospital, providing care in the community on an outreach basis, such as supporting patients with chronic conditions in the home or undertaking outpatient sessions in a community health centre or one-stop shop.
The guidelines include examples of current specialist nurses working within the NHS, such as Epilepsy Action's epilepsy specialist nurses, Sapphire Nurses:
"The epilepsy specialist nurse in Canterbury and Coastal PCT working collaboratively with primary and secondary care, provides nurse-led clinics in a variety of settings. The service was established with significant support from local and national epilepsy charities, and local patient groups continue to be involved in its development. The specialist nurse contributes to diagnosis and treatment, supports newly diagnosed patients and advises on issues such as pre-conceptual care. Working within protocols, she also advises on management of medication. An important element of her role is the education of GP and nurse colleagues in caring for patients with this condition."