A new focus on school nursing in Northamptonshire is set to see the number of school nurses increase over the next five years, according to local councillors.
Northamptonshire County Council has announced that the number of school nurses will grow from current levels of 50.4 whole-time equivalent posts to 82 by 2018.
This figure also includes an increase in specialist community public health nurses, from 16.9 in 2014 to 43 by 2018.
“We know that school nurses can make a real difference to the lives of children and young people”
Responsibility for the school nursing service was transferred to the council in 2013, as part of the move of public health services from the NHS to local authorities.
In February, the council carried out a review of the service to ensure it met local needs and priorities.
The review found the current school nursing resource for the county was too small.
It noted that changing priorities and increased demands in areas, such as safeguarding and immunisation, prevented school nurses from being a visible and accessible resource to children, young people and their families.
Meanwhile, feedback from young people showed they wanted the school nursing service to be “visible, accessible and confidential”, the council said.
The review also recognised that an under-resourced school nursing service meant young people did not receive a consistent service, which had a negative “impact on trust and the often delicate relationship between young people and school nurses”.
Robin Brown, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing councillor, said: “We know that school nurses can make a real difference to the lives of children and young people.
“Our review has shown that the current school nursing service needs to be increased, so that it’s easier for children, young people and their families to access the service and get support,” he said.
“That’s why we have agreed to invest in the service with the aim of increasing the number of school nurses, including specialist school nurses in particular,” he added.
Following the review, the council has re-commissioned Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust to deliver the service and also support its development programme.
Sharon Toyer, the trust’s deputy operations director for children’s services, said: “The additional investment in the service is fantastic news.”
The announcement of the investment comes against a background of school nurse shortages across the country.