Changing the conversation about health

The College of Medicine publishes new report calling for more school nurses

The College of Medicine has joined key voices in healthcare including nursing leads, charities and the Government in calling for more schools to have a dedicated nurse.

The College contributed to a report published this week which documents the sharp decline over the last 15 years in the number of school nurses in England.

Since 2009, schools in the UK have seen nurses on site drop by 33 per cent – with some local authorities, who’ve commissioned school nurses since 2012, shedding the posts completely.

A round table meeting on December 15th 2023 addressed the reasons for the decrease in school nurses and offered a series of solutions.

The College of Medicine’s Chair, Dr Michael Dixon, and Council Members including Professor Sir Sam Everington and Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, joined leaders from The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) and the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) to discuss the impact the decline is having on the health and wellbeing of the nation’s young people.

The report highlighted issues directly affecting children, referencing the most recent ‘Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) State of child health in the UK’ report in 2020.

Since the previous report in 2017, there had been increases in the prevalence of mental illness; child poverty; youth violence; poor oral health; use of cannabis; rates of suicide; and rates of children on a child in need plan or having a child protection plan.

Says the report: ‘The RCPCH report was published in early 2020 – before the covid-19 pandemic, associated lockdowns, and the cost-of-living crisis. All these events have served to exacerbate and complicate already deep-seated problems and widening inequalities.’

Those present at the round table agreed on an action plan to reinstate school nurses, including helping nurses to communicate the value they hold to children in education. The table also agreed to encourage the issue of reinstating school nurses on a national political level and via current healthcare strategies.