There are a wide variety of specialist nursing roles currently within healthcare. This diversity has had the effect of diluting a broad appreciation of their impact. The evidence shows that they are highly regarded by patients and their carers and seen as role models and leaders by the wider healthcare team. Their potential to drive the safety and quality of care and to improve patient outcomes can be demonstrated and is clearly recognised in current national evidence based guidelines. However, the literature also reflects that despite their potential value to the health service, many experience barriers in being able to fully realise their potential.
In a climate where quality and safety are the key goals for organisations across the spectrum of healthcare, it is clear that specialist nurses are a valuable resource with the drive and potential to deliver. Strategic support and more research into their impact would greatly enhance our understanding of the full benefits of their activities.