The Department of Health has published a new vision for school nursing which provides a framework for local services that meet both current and future needs.
Getting it right for children, young people and families, which has been produced through the School Nursing Development Programme, says that services should be visible, accessible and confidential, deliver universal public health and ensure that there is early help and extra support available to children and young people at the times when they need it.
The document is the result of the first year of work undertaken by the programme, which involves the Department of Health, Department for Education, key partner organisations, professionals and children and young people themselves.
The programme heard that children and parents weren’t always clear about the service available and heard from school nurses about the need to raise the profile of the role to ensure that maximum impact can be achieved.
Some of the ideas raised in the document include allowing pupils to text or email their school nurse to arrange appointments because at the moment many pupils do not know how to make appointments or are too embarrassed and shy to make them through a teacher.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “We want young people to be able to speak to their school nurses more often so they get sound health advice. Pupils have told us they want to be able to make appointments by text rather than going through the teacher, so that’s something we’re going to put into action.
“School nurses are hugely important they can give young people advice on all aspects of health care.”
Other ideas suggested by young people included having the choice of seeing a male or female nurse and ensuring that school nurses attend assemblies and classrooms to make themselves known to all pupils.
Liam Preston, chair of the British Youth Council said: “Young people have told the Department of Health in their own words, that school nurses need to be visible, accessible and confidential, and that young people should be able to feedback on the service they receive. At the moment, too many young people are missing out on getting help from their school nurse.”