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School nurse workload 'too heavy'

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Two thirds of school nurses feel their workload is too heavy, an RCN report has revealed.

The report, based on a survey of 1,601 school nurses, was a follow up to similar research carried out in 2005.

It found the average school nurse looked after more than 2,590 pupils, a slight decrease on 2,728 in 2005. However, 64 per cent of respondents considered their workload too heavy and 56% felt over-stretched.

Additionally, nearly three quarters now spend a significant amount of time dealing with child protection issues, compared with around a half in 2005.

RCN executive director of nursing Janet Davies said: “When school nurses are taking on an issue as crucial as the protection of children, we shouldn’t be taking a chance by not having enough of them.”

School nurse Joy Winks added: “School nurses want to protect children and help them to make healthier choices. When we can spend enough time with them, we can make a real difference for young people in many areas, such as their diet, their sexual health and any problems with drugs and alcohol.

“We know school can promote the future health of young people, but in some areas it can be very difficult due to the sheer number of pupils we’re looking after.”

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