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.
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.
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.”