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Budget cuts cause school nurses number to dwindle

There are currently around 2,000 school nurses, a decline of nearly 30% since 2010.

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Significant cuts to public health budgets has led to a reduction in school nurses.

As pupils prepare to return to school next moth the Royal College of Nursing is calling for greater investment to boost the numbers of school nurses.

At a conference of school nurses, hosted by the Royal College of Nursing, delegates heard that school nurses have seen their numbers continue to decline with their numbers standing at around 2,100 this year. This is decline of nearly 30% since 2010.

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Significant cuts to public health budgets has led to a reduction in school nurses and therefore affected their ability to provide help and support to pupils who really need it.

The RCN claims that school nurses are a vital part of the education of children and young people and in many cases are the first people those at school confide in with some of their most difficult issues.

‘Uniquely placed’.

The college emphasised that school nurses are ‘uniquely placed’ to recognise the signs of risk-taking behaviour and vulnerable children and young people who might be at risk of abuse by others. Such children may not have positive role models and a school nurse may be the first person they turn to for help.

Fiona Smith, Royal College of Nursing Professional Lead for children and young people nursing said: “As we see cuts to public health funding for local authorities we continue to see the number of school nurses decline.

“With further cuts to nursing post-registration training we are unlikely to see the numbers grow meaning many children and young people missing out on the support they need.

“It is vital decision makers learn the lesson that long-term cuts have a life-long impact.

“Our pupils need the positive benefits school nurses bring and it is time they received the funding they deserve.”

Acute Medicine

Hospital visitors and volunteers help to reduce nursing workloads, survey finds

Nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery.

Chloe Dawson

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Patient with visitor in hospitla bed

Two in five hospital patients get no visitors and require additional support from the nursing team.

Nurses working in acute hospitals feel that patients without visitors require additional support from the nursing team, according to a survey by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

The survey also revealed that nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery in a number of ways. These include; they are less likely to be mobile (43%), less likely to be stimulated through conversation (56%) and less likely to follow medical advice.

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It is also estimated that around 37% are more likely to have a longer stay in hospital.

The RVS states that volunteers can step in and play a “vital role” in helping to reduce the nursing workload and freeing up staff for clinical care.

Over half of the NHS nurses questioned said a volunteer presence on ward was very important and that volunteers could help with patient care in a variety of ways. In particular, they referenced; providing non-medical support and assisting at mealtimes.

Double the number of volunteers in the next ten years.

Previous research published in a Kings Fund report also found strong support for volunteering among frontline staff.

With approximately 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England, volunteers are becoming more important to ensure patient receive care in a timely manner.

Following the NHS Long Term plan asking hospitals to double their volunteers in the next ten years and the recognition of the help they can provide by the NHS nursing team, RVS is calling on more hospitals to make the most of volunteers to improve patient health.

Sam Ward, Director of Commissioned Services for the RVS, said; “With results showing two-fifths of patients may not see a visitor during their hospital stay, it is clear that more is needed to be done to support them.

“Volunteers offer a professional support service, encouraging mental stimulation, physical activity, and more that can play a significant role in both mental and physical recovery.

“It is vital that hospitals work together with volunteer service providers to make sure that patients across the country are able to access this support.”

 

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Acute Medicine

‘Harmful’ prescription charges for asthma medication should be scrapped, warn nurses

The majority of nurses want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

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Asthma Medication Inhaler Nebuliser

Patients are at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks simply because they can’t afford their medication.

Hundreds of nurses called for ‘harmful’ prescription costs for people with asthma to be scrapped after seeing patients have an asthma attack or need emergency treatment because of the high cost of prescriptions.

A report published today by Asthma UK in collaboration with The Royal College of Nursing and Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, includes findings from a survey of more than 600 nurses in the UK as well as 150 other healthcare professionals including doctors, pharmacists, and paramedics.

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The research highlights the harmful impact prescription charges are having on people with asthma, putting them at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks because they can’t afford their medication.

Nurses reported patients borrowing inhalers from their friends, relatives or even their own children because they couldn’t afford to buy their own – putting them at risk of taking the wrong medication, or the wrong dose.

‘An outdated and unfair policy’.

One healthcare professional told Asthma UK that she had found the money herself to pay for her patient’s prescription because she was worried about them being unable to afford their life-saving medication.

A majority of nurses surveyed (92%) want ‘harmful’ prescription charges for people with asthma to be scrapped.

Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK and a qualified nurse, said:“It’s really worrying that nurses who are working so hard to help their patients stay well are seeing people with asthma suffer because of an outdated and unfair policy. It is high time the Government took action and urgently reviewed asthma prescription charges so that people with asthma aren’t put at risk of avoidable but potentially life-threatening asthma attacks. No one should have to pay to breathe.”

‘Only making their condition worse’.

Wendy Preston, Head of Nursing Practice at the Royal College of Nursing said: “It cannot be acceptable that some people with long-term conditions are missing out on their vital medication because they cannot afford it.

“Nurses see the impact of this every day of the week and know what happens when people do not take their vital medication.

“This will only make their condition worse and they will end up needing further treatment adding additional pressure the health and care system.

“It is time that there is equity with other long-term conditions such as diabetes where prescription charges are exempt.”

Asthma UK is urging people with asthma, nurses and other healthcare professionals to join its Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign and sign its petition to end prescription charges.

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