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Nurses to be offered training in bid to tackle unhealthy teenage habits

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All nurses are to be offered free training in adolescent health as part of a new initiative to improve NHS care of young people.

The Adolescent Health Project – a joint nursing and medical project led by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) – was launched last week after research revealed young people’s health has improved the least of any age group
in the past 40 years.

According to the RCPCH, certain behaviours such as smoking, drinking alcohol, drug misuse and risky sexual behaviour often begin in adolescence and can have a permanent impact on health.

The government-funded programme offers face-to-face learning for all healthcare staff, as well as detailed e-learning modules, covering all aspects of adolescent health including development, communication skills, consent and confidentiality issues.

Staff can also learn how to help young people with mental and sexual health issues, substance misuse, eating disorders and long-term disease self-management.

The 13 modules – which are broken down into 25-minute learning sessions – are graded A to D depending on level of knowledge so staff can plan their own learning pathway.

Launching the project, health secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘Most young people deal well with the transition to adult life but a minority can face serious problems which set patterns of risk-taking behaviour which can lead to physical, mental and emotional health problems in adulthood.

‘This innovative programme brings together the many groups of professionals who interact with young people and will revolutionise the support we give to adolescents,’ he added.

Fiona Smith, RCN young people and children’s nursing adviser, said: ‘A third of nurses will come into contact with young people at some point in their daily working life. Nurses play a key role in educating young people on their health needs and have repeatedly highlighted the paucity of training and development available to them in this area.

‘This resource will give nurses the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence to work with young people,’ she added.

More information and details on free registration can be found at www.e-lfh.org.uk

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