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RCN surveys school nurses and health visitors on children’s public health issues

RCN will use survey results to build case for boosting children's health services workforce


Picture: Alamy

School nurses and health visitors are being urged to share their views about children’s public health issues in an RCN survey.

The college will collect evidence on the effects of health visiting and school nursing teams on the lives of children and young people in the UK.

RCN activists called on their leadership to lobby the government about cuts to funding for public health nursing and to take action on the decreasing numbers of health visitors and school nurses when they met at the college's Belfast congress in May.

A shrinking workforce

The survey builds on the RCN report Best Start: The Future of Children’s Health – One Year on, which urged the government to ensure more health visitors and school nurses are trained. The report showed significant and continued reductions in the health visiting workforce in England, with NHS posts falling from 10,309 in October 2015 to 8,275 by January 2018.


Fiona Smith – health visiting
and school nursing teams are 
vital. Picture: David Gee 

It also revealed that the number of school nurses employed full-time by the NHS fell 23% between March 2010 and January 2018. This was despite a rise in the number of school pupils, which in January 2017 stood at 8.7 million.

Front-line defence

The survey will examine how school nurse and health visitor teams work together and how the various roles manage workload. The RCN is also seeking information on local child health initiatives.

Survey results will inform an RCN report on the role health visitors and school nurses play in children’s health.

RCN professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said: ‘Children’s health services are the front-line defence against childhood obesity and poor child mental health, yet the number of school nurses and health visitors are dwindling.

‘As cuts to public health budgets continue, it’s important we understand the vital role health visiting and school nursing teams have across the UK. To help secure improved health outcomes for future generations, it is vital we gather as many views as possible.’

The survey closes on 15 July.

Take part in the survey


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