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New report highlights need for additional school nurses

04/09/2017 Joanna

Efforts need to be made to address a recent decline in the number of school nurses working in England, according to a new report.

Data released by NHS Digital has indicated that more than 550 school nurses have been lost to England's schooling system since 2010, which represents 19 per cent of the total school-based NHS workforce nationwide.

Moreover, the pace of this decline has accelerated in recent months, with more than 100 posts having been lost so far this year. The Royal College of Nursing has responded to these findings by warning that this trend could have negative repercussions for both teachers and students.

The organisation noted that the absence of school nurses means teachers are losing access to vital expertise to help them deal with health problems that arise during the school day, while also placing the health and safety of pupils at risk.

This is a particularly pressing issue for students with long-term health conditions that require ongoing care and maintenance, as a deterioration of school nursing services would mean that these youngsters would no longer be able to participate in the mainstream schooling system.

As such, the Royal College is calling for a funding increase for local authorities to ensure that every school is able to offer a fully-staffed school nursing service.

Fiona Smith, professional lead for children and young people's nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said: "It would be completely unjust if a child couldn't participate in school life because of their health condition. Every child has the right to an education and it is the government's responsibility to make that happen."

School nurses provide a number of essential functions, including carrying out health assessments, offering health education and advice, and running immunisation clinics.

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