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Pupils to book nurse appointments by text

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Pupils will be able to book appointments with school nurses by text messages and emails, it was announced today.

Young people sometimes feel too embarrassed or shy to approach teachers and health professionals directly, according to the government.

The Department of Health said it hopes the scheme will improve the health of children because school nurses teach them about obesity, teenage pregnancy and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Three hundred schoolchildren have offered to become school nurse champions, working with the department to come up with ideas to help pupils make more use of their school nurses and the health advice they provide.

Young people told the British Youth Council that nurses are friendly and trusting and suggested pupils should have the choice of seeing male or female nurses. They said the health professionals should attend assemblies and classrooms to make themselves known to all pupils.

Liam Preston, chair of the council, said: “Young people have told the Department of Health in their own words, that school nurses need to be visible, accessible and confidential, and that young people should be able to feed back on the service they receive.

“At the moment too many young people are missing out on getting help from their school nurse.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter, said: “We support the idea that school nurses should be flexible in the way they contact and support young people.

“However, there is a chronic underinvestment in school nursing and surveys have shown that these nurses are overstretched. To turn these plans into reality we need a renewed focus on this essential service.”

He added: “The government has demonstrated its commitment to children through investing more heavily in health visiting services. We now need a similar commitment for school nurses to provide the best level of support for all young people.”

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