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Not enough school nurses for HPV vaccine scheme

The RCN has warned there may not be enough school nurses in some areas to deliver a UK-wide programme to vaccinate school girls against cervical cancer.

The College has expressed concerns that the programme, involving 300,000 pupils, may vastly increase the workload of some school nurses.

Fiona Smith, RCN Adviser in Children and Young People's nursing, said: "I have been contacted by some team leaders to say things are not in place. If we look across the board there are some areas that are better prepared than others. Some primary care trusts appear to be looking at current school nursing resources to actually deliver this."

The RCN has already questioned whether the government had allocated sufficient resources to health organisations to roll out the immunisation programme. The College also highlighted the issue of training; questioning whether sufficient training had been provided for school nurses to answer young people's queries in an appropriate and informed way.

From 4 September 2008, all girls aged 12 and 13 will be offered the vaccination in three doses over a six-month period. Nurses will also run a "catch-up" programme for older girls under the age of 18 from autumn 2009.


Are you concerned about the increased workload? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I am not concerned about the increased workload so far nurses are recruited on a correct post and at the appropriate period. Taking action at the appropriate time and make decision will help a lot" - Maryam Omitogun, South West-London

"There are grave concerns regarding the workload and the scheduling of delivery of the HPV vaccine. This is causing some concerns and I am aware that there are potential problems ahead. Not only that it will impact
on delivery of the school leavers vaccine in May. On top of that in the 2009/10 and 2010/2011 academic year we will have three year groups of girls we are expected to do catch up with!!! The government obesity targets are also high on the school nursing agenda and have to be prioritised, along with safeguarding and everything else that is deemed part of the 'role of the school nurse'." - Alison Sharpe, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

"In south Birmingham PCT school nurses do very much, we still do school leaver DTPs in school and MMR boosters. Our and we are involved in the HPV vaccine as we have just employed a few immunisation nurses team to run the  HPV. Our other work consists of seeing children before case conferences, child protetion issues,teaching student nurses, CAF assessments,health interviews, enuresis clinics the list is endless need I go on." - Fiona Harris, Birmingham

"Glasgow is about to go through a HMIE inspection fot its Child Protection Procedures. So along with the start of the HPV immunisation the school nursing teams have their work cut out for themselves. Immunisation programmes in Glasgow are usually well organised and run very efficiently. Money has been spent to provide bank nurses and administration staff to ensure the process runs smoothly. Two weeks into the programme, so far so good." - Susan Lindsay, South west CHCP, Glasgow

"I am a health visitor, and not concerned about the workload. I think with the 0-19 years integrated working, we can train health visiting teams to assist in delivering this programme. So, with good forward planning and system in place it can be achieved." - Temitope Oladeinde, Haringey PCT, London

"Yet again the government does not think through the problems before initiating an action plan. This should have been rolled out much earlier in the year. Practice nurses are already working to a bulging population at this time of year." - Theresa Mulroy, Manchester

"I am not really concerned about the increased workload. I beleive that with all hands on deck, proper planning, hard work, dilligence, consistency and professionalism the work can be done and the expected goals achieved with the full backing of the government and PCT." - Roseline Bella, Newham PCT

"Not very concerned about the worklaoad if there is proper planning. Some parents might not even want their child to have the vaccine. My concern is the gap between the first vaccine and for the girls to complete the doses." - Maryam Omitogun, Southwark PCT

"There will be a lot of problems, more so the cultural view point. Also the nurse will spend a lot of time going over the same things. I do not believe that the girls will complete the course. I also believe that the practice nurses are going to be used as a side kick. Some have not even gone on study days. It is is going to be hard  to reach the girls that it is intended for." - Joy Thanni, London

"Sounds about right to me, our great leaders have obviously thought this one out? Anyway lets wait and see how resilient nurses really are (again)!" - Simon, Cambs

"NHS Warwickshire has a new designated immunisation team. This will take some of the load off school and practice nurses." - Michelle, Warwickshire

"In Cornwall it's not being done by school nurses but yet another immunisation campaign being taken on by PNs, along with MMR catch up and flu season." - Mary, Cornwall

"Passed to the practice nurses yet again - and timed to perfection when the fridges are full of flu jabs. Do they ever think to ask the people at the sharp end how these plans should be rolled out?" - Pat, Birmingham

"In Guernsey school nurses took on the school leaver booster from practice nurses last year and are about to roll out the HPV programme. We have acquired a minimal extra hours for this but undoubtedly the services are gradually being eroded in other areas. Child protection will always be a prioity but I feel there will be little time for anything else. And of course a lot of the admin of the vaccination scheme is down to us, including sorting out catch-ups!" - F Hardy, Guernsey

"An increased workload is almost expected with the introduction of any vaccination programme. I have worked as a school nurse and now manage an agency for primary healthcare personnel. Practice nurses will also experience an increase in workload no doubt, in particular with catch-up sessions. I believe the use of appropriately trained locum nurses could ease the increased workload situation." - Nadia Billen, Neath

"In general practice (Wales) we have patients requesting, yet very little information to give patients about the vaccine. The roll-out programme doesn't cover last school leavers or year 11 as is. No provisions have been made for primary care. We are looking into this but it annoys me that the media are instructing families to see/talk to GP when we don't have vaccines or any clear direction." - J Loxton, Wales

"In Birmingham area - not really sure what school nurse do anymore really as they no longer do many BCG imms, they do not do the school leaver DTPs as these have been passed to practice nurses, and now we (PNs) are going to be doing the HPV imms also, not as in many areas the school nurses, as
was planned by the Department of Health." - Annie, Birmingham