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School nurse nationally recognised for mental health pilot

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Ms Bates with her commendation Ms Bates with her commendation

A children's community liaison nurse has been nationally recognised at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health awards for her work with young people.

Jo Bates from the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust's 0-19 Melton and Rutland school nursing team, was 'highly commended' at the awards ceremony for supporting young people with emotional and mental health issues.

Ms Bates led a pilot project to address the high levels of referrals from schools to the school nursing services for emotional health and wellbeing. This involved running early intervention emotional health and wellbeing clinics in secondary schools, delivering training for school nurses and school staff to give them additional skills in working with children with mental health problems and managing a clinical caseload to support young people waiting for access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). This in turn reduced the need for referrals.

Ms Bates said: 'Being shortlisted for the award is a real honour and it's very motivating to feel that you are making a difference. I’m very grateful to both Chris [Brooks, Ms Bates' former line manager] and Jane Sansom, family services manager for health visiting and school nursing, who supported my secondment to set up the service, and negotiated funding.'

Maggie Clarke, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s senior nurse, professional lead for school nursing and Queen’s Nurse, said: 'Jo’s innovative work has made a real difference to young people in the community. The Positive Practice in Mental Health awards are a great opportunity to share this good practice with others across the country, easing pressure on CAMHS.'

In Melton and Rutland, the percentage of young people attending school nurse drop-in clinics with emotional, mental health and behavioural issues are high. Some schools reported that 90% of their referrals to the school nursing service was in relation to emotional health and wellbeing.

Parent's feedback was positive with one parent saying: “I strongly believe the system would be much better if there were more people in [Ms Bates'] role offering regular, personal, constructive support when children and families need it.'

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