Wales’s health minister Edwina Hart has announced plans for every secondary school to have its own nurse within a year.
It is part of a One Wales commitment to improving children’s health and increasing the number of nurses to provide children with a point of medical contact.
Tina Donnelly, director of RCN Wales, said: “People often call school nurses the nit nurse and think they are just people who look at children’s hair and teeth on a regular basis, but that’s completely out of date.
“School nurses are the first point of contact for children with problems at home; with bullying; who are being abused at home or who are exposed to drug or alcohol abuse.
“This is everyday, run of the mill work for school nurses, but they also give advice about sex education, about healthy eating and the impact of exercise.”
The RCN is calling for school nurses to be available to school children 365 days a year, not just during term time. Rosemary Kennedy, Wales’ chief nursing officer, said: “The needs of children and young people, particularly those who are vulnerable, do not stop once they walk out of the school gates.”
The Government is to provide initial funding for the scheme, to ensure enough nurses are appointed, but health boards will have to cover the costs from 2011.
At present, the provision of nurses in Wales is not uniform, with some schools only getting a nurse for one afternoon every few weeks.
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