Nurses could carry out surgery to save money, says watchdog

Foundation trust regulator Monitor says nurses could take on surgical procedures such as giving topical anaesthesia

Getting nurses to carry out surgery usually done by consultants could save the NHS around one fifth of its budget for elective surgery, a report by Monitor has found.

The foundation trust regulator has examined national variations in two specialities, orthopaedics and ophthalmology.

The report promotes examples of best practice which include nurses administering injections for wet age-related macular degeneration or in the case of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, giving topical anaesthesia for routine cataract surgery.

The regulator said that, if successful, such examples could be rolled out to more complex areas of treatment.

Monitor also praised the example set by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust where routine orthopaedic patients have 'virtual' follow-ups, using services such as Skype, after an initial face-to-face appointment.

Read the report here