Drop in school nurses 'putting children at risk’, RCN warns

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that falling numbers of school nurses may be putting vulnerable children at risk of exploitation and abuse.

The latest NHS workforce statistics show the number of school nursing posts has fallen by 13 per cent since 2010, with just 2,606 now left in the NHS.

The RCN believes that school nurses play a ‘key role’ in delivering essential sex and relationships education (SRE) and safeguarding children against sexual exploitation and abuse.

Ahead of the RCN School Nurses Conference, the RCN is calling for the government to secure school nursing roles.

Fiona Smith, RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, said: “School nurses are there for all children and young people, providing support, encouraging healthy lifestyles and protecting those who are most vulnerable.

“They have the training and expertise to really drive forward effective SRE in schools, but with numbers dropping all the time school nurses simply don’t have the capacity to follow this through.

“The government should be prioritising this expertise – not cutting the roles when we need them most.

“The RCN supports the call for compulsory SRE in all schools, but we need the workforce that can deliver this crucial aim and make sure all children and young people are safe and healthy.”

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