Scottish county seeking to triple number of ‘modern’ school nurses

22nd April, 2021 8:07 am

Nurse directors in the Scottish county of Lanarkshire are working to triple the school nursing workforce in the area as part of a wider government programme to modernise the role.

By boosting the workforce and its capacity, the aim is to address increased demands such as a rise in mental health conditions in children and to prevent “adverse childhood events”, those leading the work told Nursing Times.

Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership have teamed up to help promote what they described as the “modern” school nurse role and to boost recruitment.

The new approach stems from a government paper from the chief nursing officer’s directorate in 2018 which outlined plans to transform school nursing in Scotland.

The document stated that the “refocused” school nursing role should concentrate primarily on 10 priority pathway areas. These included: emotional health and wellbeing, child protection, substance misuse, domestic abuse, looked-after children, homelessness, youth justice, young carers, transitions and sexual health.

Over the past couple of years, nurse directors in Lanarkshire have been “scoping out” which of these areas the school nursing teams already covered and then exploring where there were gaps. They are now in the process of implementing the pathways and want to boost the workforce to help do so.

Morag Anderson, associate nurse director at Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire, told Nursing Times the plan was to triple the school nursing workforce in Lanarkshire.

In addition, she said going forward, all school nurse roles would become band 6 posts and the “expectation” would be for individuals to have a Specialist Community Public Health Nursing (SCPHN) qualification. Previously, the school nursing workforce was made up of band 5 staff nurses, explained Ms Anderson.

School nurses will also go through national training outlined by the Scottish Government as well as “in-house” training with their organisations to help meet the new approach.

“The role of school nursing is evolving in Scotland,” Ms Anderson told Nursing Times.

“The aim of this is to try and reduce or prevent as many of the adverse childhood events which school children might suffer, which then effects the rest of their life.

“We want Scotland to be the best place for children to grow up – that’s our aim and our direction.”

She highlighted the increase in children experiencing anxiety and other mental health conditions as one of the key drivers for moderning the role.

An information event is being held on Wednesday, 28 April for those interested in learning more about the new approach.

In a press release ahead of the event, Ms Anderson said: “The role of the modern school nurse has moved on significantly from our memories of the school nurses we knew when we were at school.

“A large element of the work now involves providing effective school nursing services for vulnerable pupils who have been identified as being at risk and requiring additional support.”

Meanwhile, Lynsey Sutherland, South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership associate nurse director, highlighted the “autonomy” of the school nurse role and focus on prevention and early intervention.

 

Source: Nursing Times, April 2021

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