Welcome to my Blog. I hope you find the posts interesting, informative and perhaps even entertaining(!). I'll update this Blog with my responses to topical stories of the day, important news and tales of my travels up and down the UK, meeting our inspirational nursing staff.

The RCN represents almost 400,000 nurses in the UK and is the country's largest nursing union.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The importance of the school nurse...

As anyone who listened to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Case Notes’ yesterday evening http://bit.ly/b4r8d will know, the role of the school nurse has changed dramatically over the last few decades.

We heard how they used to act as ‘hand maids’ whose duties included checking for nits and preparing notes for the onsite doctor.

Their role now could hardly be more different. Today, across the UK, school nurses are leading, not following, and spend their time inoculating, advising and mentoring hundreds of thousand of school children every day.

Whether it’s running sexual health clinics, providing the important immunisations or writing detailed care plans for those with chronic conditions – the school nurse is an essential part of child health.

For those children lucky enough to have easy access to a school nurse, they are an invaluable tool. They can highlight the dangers of alcohol, smoking and obesity at an age where prevention is more powerful than cure.

However, not all children have the access to school nurses that they need or deserve. A recent RCN survey found that two thirds of school nurses felt overstretched and unsupported by their rising workload, and that government targets to increase the numbers of school nurses are unlikely to be met by the deadline next year.

Furthermore, we found that the average school nurse now looks after more than seven schools, with a quarter looking after more than 10. One nurse questioned looked after 26 schools.

The RCN has campaigned for every child to have access to a school nurse and we will continue to do so. The current shortage must be addressed and we mustn’t allow current financial constraints to threaten this investment.

School nurses are the best tool we have in fighting some of the biggest health issues facing our country and we must be bold enough to invest in them now.

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