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Call to increase number of nurses in schools

13 May 2009

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A lack of school nurses could easily lead to another Baby P tragedy, according to a nursing chief.

Logic suggests there are “other Baby Ps out there”, and that action is often only taken in the wake of a tragedy, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Dr Peter Carter said.

He added that school nurses were increasingly called on to deal with child protection issues but low staffing numbers – with one nurse on average looking after more than 2,500 schoolchildren – meant they were struggling to cope.

Dr Carter said there was extra pressure on nurses in the wake of major reports into child protection and there was evidence that a number of schools did not implement requirements, meaning school nurses were not in a position to give children of all ages the kind of care they deserved.

The RCN said some school nurses were required to cover as many as 26 schools, and the only way to address this was by increasing the number of school nurses in England working the equivalent of fulltime from 2,634 (2008 figures) to 6,000.

A poll of more than 1,000 school nurses for the union found that almost three-quarters now spent a “significant amount of time” dealing with child protection issues compared with around half of nurses questioned in 2005.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Royal College of Nursing