News: A nurse for every secondary school in Wales25 May 2010, Welsh Assembly Government
Health Minister Edwina Hart has visited Mountain Ash Comprehensive in Rhondda Cynon Taf to launch the new school nursing service in Wales.
The Framework for a School Nursing Service for Wales sets the target to introduce a named nurse for every secondary school by May 2011. The nurses' role is to help address the health, emotional and social needs of children and young people and promote healthy behaviour and well-being. It will address the needs of all pupils regardless of their school attendance and will include services outside school hours and during school holidays where required.
It is widely accepted that schools that promote the health and well being of children and young people are more likely to create an effective learning environment.
School nurses can contribute significantly to this, including:
- Supporting children with complex health needs so that they can stay in school, and identifying vulnerable children and children with additional needs;
- The successful delivery of mass immunisation and responding to outbreaks of infectious disease; and,
- Working with pupils to enhance their understanding of health issues, and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices that will improve all aspects of their health and well being from exercise and nutrition, to sexual health, dental health, positive mental and emotional health and accident prevention.
To meet the shortfall in the school nurses the Welsh Assembly Government is providing additional funding to Health Boards for 12 months to enable them to employ specialist community public health school nurses (SCPHN) and registered nurses. Health Boards will sustain the newly created posts beyond this.
The school nursing service will complement a number of other Assembly Government initiatives such as the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes, School Based Counselling Services and Designed to Smile.
Health Minister Edwina Hart said:
"The provision of a school nurse for every secondary school will lead to greater consistency of the service across Wales to improve the health of children and young people.
"The nurses will have a mix of skills and expertise, covering public health, health surveillance, health promotion, health protection, safeguarding, supporting children and young people with medical, special and complex health needs.
"This will increase opportunities to work together with others, such as teachers, classroom assistants, school counsellors, youth workers, parents and school students."
Chief Nursing Officer Rosemary Kennedy said:
"The needs of children and young people, particularly those who are vulnerable, do not stop once they walk out of the school gates.
"The school nursing service, both within and outside of school, will be provided according to assessed needs but could include drop-in clinics, meeting with individuals, home visits and collaborative working with other agencies during school holidays."
Tina Donnelly, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said:
"We welcome the commitment of the Welsh Assembly Government to improve the health of our nation's children and to increasing the number of School Nurses working in Wales.
"Children need access to a healthcare professional to support them during their most vulnerable years when they may be at risk of physical, emotional or substance abuse. Knowing there is a caring nurse that they can turn to within school time and outside of school hours is vital for their health and emotional wellbeing."