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Unions call for investment in school nursing

A government drive to make it easier for young people to contact their school nurse will not be successful without more investment in the nursing workforce, according to unions.

The Department of Health has been working with young people to design new resources, such as posters and leaflets, to promote school nursing. They can be downloaded from a new website for use by teachers and school nursing teams.

The DH also wants pupils to be able to contact their school nurse by text and is encouraging all children starting school this September to find out who their school nurse is.

Launching the initiative yesterday, public health minister Anne Milton said: “We want to make it easier for young people to use the school nursing service and get good health advice.”

Unite professional officer Rosalind Godson told Nursing Times that young people in many places were already able to text their school nurse, but said any DH move to raise the profile of school nurses was welcome.

But she added: “We need the government to put its money where its mouth is and invest in the service.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter agreed, saying: “School nurses are already overstretched and we must make sure there is the resource to meet demand.”

Latest figures show that, in May, there were 1,146 school nurses serving a population of more than six million five to 15 year olds. Earlier this year the government announced a school nurse strategy, setting out a vision of a universal service for all children. However, it did not include any extra funding.

Under the government’s reforms, councils will become responsible for commissioning public health services from April next year, including the provision of school nurses.

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