The majority of school nurses in the UK are not getting access to specialist training and development, latest survey results suggest.
The RCN poll of over 1,000 school nurses revealed that, despite taking on more responsibility, 85% have problems getting study time, funding and appropriate cover.
According to the RCN, the average state school nurse has a case load of more than 2,500 school children, with one school nurse covering as many as 26 schools.
Due to increasing public health demands, the role of the school nurse now includes administering the HPV and other vaccines, addressing obesity, educating staff to deal with conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and providing sexual health advice.
The survey also revealed that almost three quarters of school nurses now spend a significant amount of time dealing with child protection issues, compared with around half in 2005.
RCN general secretary Peter Carter said: ‘The number of school nurses working and being trained are simply not keeping pace with the level of demand. If nurses are taking on an increasing role in child protection, the risks of not having enough staff are too high to contemplate.
‘PCTs must be prepared to invest in employing and training more school nurses, so that they do not have to pay the price of a generation of children who don’t have access to one,’ he added.