Nurses working in state school settings do not have the same opportunities to attend training and other external events, said the professional lead for children and young people’s nursing at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
Fiona Smith made the comments after the RCN’s School Nurses Conference on 24 August at the Thistle Mayfair in London. The event was predominantly attended by school nurses working in independent schools or academies (state funded but able to spend the money as they see fit), leading to concerns that nurses working in state schools cannot access conferences and training events. Around 140 delegates attended the conference while roughly 10% were from state schools.
Ms Smith said: ‘School nurses are finding it increasingly difficult to access training and be supported to develop their skills at external events. This could be due to a lack of time, staffing schedules or a lack of resources.’
She added: ‘School nurse services are being reduced at the moment. Cuts to the public health budget are stretching resources. Nurses across the NHS, not just school nurses, are finding it more difficult to attend events such as the conference.’
The RCN School Nurse Conference is held annually to provide school nurses with educational opportunities and to encourage discussion about professional and practical issues affecting the profession.
Children’s mental health was cited by delegates as one of the most pressing challenges facing school nurses. Effective communication with teachers and other staff to ensure that children with long-term conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and severe allergies are supported to manage their conditions was also imperative delegates said.