Fall in school nurses prompts fears that children’s lives are ‘at risk’

Staff are carrying out injections without adequate training or support, union warns

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Sunday 23 February 2020 16:32
Comments
Number of school nurses has fallen by 11 per cent in four years – from 472 in 2015 to 420 in 2018
Number of school nurses has fallen by 11 per cent in four years – from 472 in 2015 to 420 in 2018

The number of nurses in schools has fallen in recent years, prompting fears that pupils’ lives are being put “at risk”.

Teaching assistants are being asked to carry out medical interventions, such as injections, without adequate training or support, the GMB union, which represents school staff, has said.

Data, obtained by the GMB union through a Freedom of Information request, shows the number of school nurses has fallen by 11 per cent in four years – from 472 in 2015 to 420 in 2018.

Separate NHS figures show that school nurses working out of GP practices and health centres have also dropped by nearly a fifth since 2015, from 2,732 to 2,205 in 2018.

Meanwhile, during the same period, the number of pupils has increased placing extra pressure on staff.

Some children with complex and potentially life-threatening needs are at greater risk due to cuts in specialist support, union officials have warned.

It comes after a separate report from inspectorates warned that a shortage of school nurses meant signs of sexual abuse within families were being missed.

Karen Leonard, national schools officer at the GMB union, said: “The uncomfortable truth is that in too many schools children are not getting the medical support they need.”

Ms Leonard added: “School staff should not administer medicine unless they feel fully confident in their training and lines of accountability, but often they are placed in uncomfortable situations.

“This is a highly stressful state of affairs for children, parents, and staff, who fear they will be blamed if something goes wrong. It is not alarmist to say that lives are at risk.”

The union is calling on the government to conduct an investigation into the impact of these job cuts and for additional funding to be brought forward to fund training and to replace posts that have been lost.

A Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said: “It is important school nurses are available to make sure children get the best start in life.

“Local authorities are best placed to make decisions for their communities and we have given them £3bn this year to spend on public health services, including the provision of school nurses.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in