A new focus on school nursing in Northamptonshire is set to see the number of school nurses increase over the next five years.
The number of school nurses will grow from current levels (50.4 whole-time equivalent) to 82 by 2018. This figure includes an increase in specialist community public health nurses, from 16.9 in 2014 to 43 by 2018.
The responsibility for the school nursing service was transferred to Northamptonshire County Council in 2013 as part of the move of public health services to local authorities.
In February this year the county council carried out a review of the service, including consulting with children and young people, parents, carers, nurses and other stakeholders to help shape the new service and make sure it meets local needs and priorities.
The review found that the current school nursing resource is too small, with changing priorities and increased demands in areas such as safeguarding and immunisation preventing school nurses from being a visible and accessible resource to children, young people and their families.
Consultation feedback showed that young people want the school nursing service to be visible, accessible and confidential. It also recognised that an under-resourced school nursing service means that young people do not receive a consistent service, and that this has an impact on trust and the often delicate relationship between young people and school nurses.
Cabinet member for public health and wellbeing Councillor Robin Brown said: “We know that school nurses can make a real difference to the lives of children and young people.
“They carry out important work within schools, helping students to set down strong foundations for good life chances and supporting them in the choices they make about their health.
“Our review has shown that the current school nursing service needs to be increased, so that it’s easier for children, young people and their families to access the service and get support.
“That’s why we have agreed to invest in the service with the aim of increasing the number of school nurses, including specialist school nurses in particular. By doing this we can improve the service so that it’s more accessible and visible, putting the health and wellbeing of children, young people and families at the centre.”
Following the review, the service has been recommissioned from Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust who will be responsible for delivering the county’s school nursing service and supporting its development programme.
Sharon Toyer, Deputy Operations Director - Children’s Services, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to deliver and develop the school nursing service. The additional investment in the service is fantastic news and we are committed to utilising it to contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of Children and Young people across Northamptonshire.”