Press Release Press Release Press Release
Embargoed until 00.01 Tuesday, 17 October 2000
CALL FOR 'BIGGEST SHAKE-UP' IN SCHOOL NURSING
A report recommending the biggest shake-up in the role of school nurses for a generation - with the recruitment of 20% more school nurses - was launched today (Tuesday, 17 October).
The School Nursing Within the Public Health Agenda document calls for a beefed-up role for the UK's 2,500 school nurses in preventing teenage pregnancies and slashing the drugs, smoking and alcohol problems amongst school children.
The report - by the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association, The Queen's Nursing Institute, and the Royal College of Nursing - calls for the introduction of a set standard for school nurses across the country to replace the present ad hoc policy where cover in schools can be patchy, or even non-existent.
It calls for universal access to the School Nursing Service for every school age children, with the focus being on specific areas of health concern, rather than the current routine screening process. The service would be for the whole of the school age population (even when they are not in school), and not just focused on schools.
For the first time since 1976, a benchmark for cover in schools has been recommended. The report says that there should be a three-person team of a school nurse, community nurse and support worker with a caseload of 5,000 - 6,000 children. This could vary on the demands of a particular area; i.e. school nurses working alone in the Outer Hebrides should have a caseload of not more than 500 children.
To implement the recommendations of the report, it is estimated that 500 more school nurses will need to be employed - a 20% rise - at a cost of £9 million-a-year.
The report says: "School nurses and school doctors understand the cultures of both education and health. It is this knowledge that makes the school health service and school nursing unique."
The CPHVA's Professional Officer for School Nursing and Public Health, Pat Jackson said: "The government has placed 'prevention' at the top of its healthcare agenda. School nurses are in the frontline when it comes to 'prevention'. We hope that ministers will endorse the framework document and that the necessary resources are invested in school nursing. The report recommends the biggest shake-up for a generation."
Jo Hesketh, Director of The Queen's Nursing Institute said: "What underpins these recommendations is the vital need for a set standard for school nursing. Present provision is patchy and in some cases almost non-existent. The health and welfare of school children and young people - at school and beyond the school gates - is a crucial aspect of this country's overall public health. We trust ministers will support our recommendations with whole hearted investment in the school nursing infrastructure."
Chair of the RCN School Nursing Forum, Judy McRae said: "School nurses have a vital role to play in the well-being of children and young people as they can take a direct approach to health promotion. Advising on everything from acne and bullying to pregnancy, diet and relationships, school nurses are worth investing in."
The report will be presented to Health Secretary, Alan Milburn.
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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.