New guidance on recruiting more school nurses will prove to be nothing more than “rhetoric” unless the government can put its money where its mouth is, union officials have warned.
The DfES and DoH want to see at least one full-time qualified school nurse for each of the UK’s 3,400 secondary schools. But currently there are only around 2,400 school nurses, of which only 856 are qualified school nurses.
Unveiling the guidance, which is aimed at modernising the school nurse role, schools minister Andrew Adonis said: “We want to do more to support the work of school nurses. We want to expand their roles even further. We know that children will succeed best in life if they are health, happy and confident.”
However, the initiative has not impressed representatives of the profession. A spokesperson for Community Practitioners and Health Visitors countered: “We have had many eloquent statements from government in recent years about the importance of school nurses in the drive to improve the health and well-being of children and young people.
“But the reality is that the workforce is static, if not falling. It is becoming increasingly clear that future government money to primary care trusts for school nursing should be ring-fenced, otherwise it will be hijacked for other purposes.”