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Pupils to text school nurses to book appointments

School nurses could soon be receiving texts from pupils to schedule appointments under government plans to improve health in schools.

It is believed too many school pupils “find it hard” to see school nurses because they do not know how to make appointments or are “too embarrassed” to ask for an appointment though a teacher.

In unveiling the new initiative, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said technology such as emails and text messaging can help pupils overcome these problems.

“We want young people to be able to speak to their school nurses more often so they get sound health advice,” he said.

“Pupils have told us they want to be able to make appointments by text rather than going through the teacher, so that's something we're going to put into action.

“School nurses are hugely important they can give young people advice on all aspects of health care. We're going to work with school pupils to look at more innovative ways to get advice and support from school nurses.”

Three hundred young people have offered to become 'school nurse champions' and will work with the DH to come up with new ideas to help pupils get more access to their school nurses and the health advice they provide.

Some ideas already suggested by the pupil volunteers included having the choice of seeing a male or female nurse and ensuring school nurses attend assemblies and classrooms to make themselves more available and known to all pupils.

Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Dr Peter Carter welcomed the government initiative but called for further investment and a “renewed focus” in school nurses to turn the plans into reality.

“We welcome these plans to give pupils greater access to their school nurses and we support the idea that school nurses should be flexible in the way they contact and support young people,” he said.

“However there is a chronic underinvestment in school nursing and surveys have shown that these nurses are overstretched.

“To turn these plans into reality we need a renewed focus on this essential service.

“The Government has demonstrated its commitment to children through investing more heavily in health visiting services. We now need a similar commitment for school nurses to provide the best level of support for all young people.”

A study by the National Children's Bureau showed that the majority of young people want their school nurse to help them eat more healthily and help them with the changes they go through as they grow up.

Question: Do you support the government's new school nurse initiative?