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Children’s health: RCN chief says all schools should have a dedicated nurse

School nurses have vital role in promoting healthier children's lifestyles

RCN general secretary Dame Professor Donna Kinnair says school nurses have vital role in educating and supporting children about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices

Every school should have its own dedicated full-time nurse who sits on the board of governors to tackle issues such as mental health and childhood obesity, a senior nurse leader has urged.

RCN general secretary Dame Professor Donna Kinnair made the comments after the College of Medicine and Integrated Health published Hope for the Future manifesto outlining its aims for a healthier society.

RCN general secretary Dame Professor Donna Kinnair says school nurses have vital role in educating and supporting children about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices

RCN says all schools in England should have a nurse to help reduce issues with mental health and childhood obesity
Picture: iStock

Every school should have its own dedicated full-time nurse who sits on the board of governors to tackle issues such as mental health and childhood obesity, a senior nurse leader has urged.

RCN general secretary Dame Professor Donna Kinnair made the comments after the College of Medicine and Integrated Health published Hope for the Future manifesto outlining its aims for a healthier society.

One of the suggestions in the manifesto is that every school in England should have a school nurse, who sits on the school board.

Number of school nurses in England has fallen by one third

Professor Kinnair, who co-authored the manifesto, said school nurses are a ‘vital part of the education of children and young people’.

‘With one in six children and young people experiencing mental health issues, the role of the school nurse has never been more important in assisting them. We also know issues such as obesity and diabetes are increasing,’ she said.

RCN general secretary Dame Professor Donna Kinnair
Dame Professor Donna Kinnair
Picture: Justine Desmond

‘At the same time, the number of school nurses in England has fallen by around one third, leaving many children and young people without this fundamental support.’

NHS Workforce Statistics showed that in England in September 2009, there were 1,135 qualified school nurses. However, in October 2020 this number had reduced to 883.

Professor Kinnair added: ‘Investing in school nurses can go a long way to reducing the impact of these issues, which can have lifelong consequences.

School nurses often first people children and young people confide in

‘They play a central role in supporting, managing and educating children and young people about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. They are often the first people children confide in.’

The manifesto also calls for all children to experience growing food and to have lessons on cooking healthy meals.

In addition, the manifesto suggests that every child should have at least one hour of daily exercise.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said that every school has access to school nursing services: ‘Local authorities are responsible for the commissioning and delivery of these services in schools, including the provision of additional school nursing capacity.'

The DHSC added that it has provided guidance to help schools support pupils with medical conditions.


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