The financial and medical benefits of allowing nurses to conduct more consultations in primary care have been detailed in a new study published in the British Journal of General Practice.
The costs to practices of consultations by GPs and nurse practitioners were compared in the study, which revealed that medical processes, diagnoses and outcomes remained consistent with no significant changes between GPs and nurses, while the cost of care dropped significantly.
The study concluded: "From a general practice perspective, direct costs of nurse practitioner consultations were significantly less than those of GP consultations."
A follow-up study also found that patients benefit more from practices that employ more nurses after researchers concluded that they perform better on a number of clinical domains in the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) if they operate in larger numbers.
The researchers behind this second study also found that improved performance included better intermediate clinical outcomes. This suggests that real patient benefit may be associated with using nurses to deliver care to meet QOF targets, they said.