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18 May 2000

ULSTER'S SCHOOL NURSES IN "CATCH 22" TRAINING DILEMMA

Northern Ireland's school nurses face a "Catch 22" situation in their bid to develop their skills to tackle vital health issues, such as teenage pregnancy, which is one of the highest in Europe, and drug abuse.

A conference - to be held at Queen's University, Belfast on Friday, 26 May - will hear that only one of Northern Ireland's 100 school nurses has the specialist practice qualification held by the majority of their colleagues in the rest of the UK.

The Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association's Professional Officer for School Nursing and Public Health, Pat Jackson will say that school nurses are not encouraged by their employers to go on specialist training courses in Northern Ireland, therefore the courses can't run as there are no students.

"It is a "Catch 22" situation", Ms Jackson will tell the Developing a School Nursing Agenda conference. The CPHVA is advocating that school nurses undertake a one-year degree level specialist course. At present, most school nurses hold a health education certificate or similar qualification.

The CPHVA's Professional Officer for Northern Ireland, Briege Coyle said: "The conference will highlight the urgent need for a specialist course so that Northern Ireland's school nurses receive the higher level of training they need to develop their skills to tackle the social problems that young people face on a daily basis.

"They are being short-changed by employers who are allowing short term financial constraints to prevent the necessary investment in school nurses training to allow them to achieve their full potential for making a real difference in addressing these issues."

The CPHVA is a driving force behind the National Framework for School Nursing Practice that called for a set standard for school nurses across the UK.

The CPHVA represents 60% of the UK's 2,500 school nurses

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NOTE TO NEWS EDITORS

For further information, please contact:

Pat Jackson 0498 53 10 27
Briege Coyle 07968 451911
Shaun Noble Press Officer (020) 7939 7043 mobile 0468 69 39 40

The media are warmly invited to attend this conference which starts at 9.30am the Central Teaching Facility.

CPHVA press releases can be seen on the MSF web site: www.msf.org.uk

The CPHVA is an autonomous professional section of the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union.

The CPHVA represents 18,000 health visitors, school nurses, practice nurses and registered nurses working in the community in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland


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