The NHS could save millions of pounds by investing in nurses to support people with conditions such as Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, a union has said.
Specialist nurses help keep people out of hospital by offering advice on medication and day-to-day living with an illness, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said.
It estimates £56m a year could be saved on care for people with Parkinson's through greater use of specialist nurses.
Meanwhile, £180m could be saved by treating multiple sclerosis flare-ups at home rather than in hospital.
Another £84m could be saved if specialist nurses supported people with epilepsy rather than relying on GPs.
The RCN surveyed almost 300 specialist nurses working in 60 NHS organisations and charities and found only 36% believed all those patients who needed specialist nursing currently received it.
Of the 49% who identified problems accessing specialist care, 69% said specialist nurse services are overloaded and cannot take on new patients.
Dr Peter Carter, General Secretary of the RCN, 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."
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