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School nurses cut to make way for new health visitors

School nurses are at risk of being “poached” due to the government's health visitor recruitment drive.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns some areas are replacing school nurses with health visitors in order to meet the government's target to recruit an extra 4,200 health visitors in England by 2015.

In response, the RCN has called for a “sustained investment” in school nursing.

“School nurses are telling us that not only has there been a poor investment in school health services in recent years, but that they are increasingly stretched as recruitment freezes are imposed and posts are cut,” said Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary.

“It is absolutely vital that UK governments invest in school nurses, who play a key role in supporting children, young people and their families.”

One in six school nurses responding to the RCN's 2011 survey said posts had been cut in the past year.

A third of school nurses also reported they were experiencing recruitment freezes and 20% said staffing levels were being reduced.

The RCN said “strong, visible and influential school nursing leadership” is needed to plan and manage change and to help secure a robust future for school nursing services.

Question: Do you think school nurses are underappreciated?