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RCN: School nurse cuts mean health crisis for youth and children "will escalate"

Insufficient investment in school nursing will escalate the health crisis among young people and children, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned today.

Despite consistently growing numbers of school pupils, figures have shown a decrease in school nurses since 2010.

Health Education England, moreover, has predicted a worrying 24% vacancy rate in this area of nursing.

Fiona Smith, professional lead for children and young people's nursing at the RCN, said: “School nurses play a critical role in the health of our children yet their work is so often overlooked - and undervalued.”

There are currently more than 8.4 million pupils attending 24,317 schools - yet the numbers of school nurses has fallen to just 3,053 employed by the NHS.

“Unlike any other health professional, school nurses work with children and education staff on a daily basis. However, investment is fundamental if we are to begin solving this crisis in children's health and build a healthy and prosperous future population,” Smith added.

Authorities in London, Staffordshire, Middlesbrough and Derbyshire are already considering cuts to school nurse funding to plug gaps in other areas of public health, the RCN said in a statement.