The loss of school nurses from the profession may cause unwell children to leave mainstream school, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.
New data from NHS Digital has revealed that 500 school nurses have left the profession since last year, a drop that amounts to nearly a fifth (19%) of the total NHS England workforce, and has left just 2,433 full-time school nurses in the country.
Over 100 school nurses have left the role in 2017 alone, indicating that the trend is on the rise.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said the loss is ‘leaving teachers without vital training and pupils without necessary support’.
The RCN has warned that if services continue to deteriorate, pupils with health conditions such as asthma, allergies, diabetes or epilepsy may be unable to attend mainstream school.
Fiona Smith, RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, said: ‘It would be completely unjust if a child couldn’t participate in school life because of their health condition.
‘Every child has the right to an education and it is the Government’s responsibility to make that happen.’
The nursing union is now calling on the Government to provide local authorities with the funds needed for fully-staffed school nursing services, ‘so that every child can attend school safely’.
‘It is time the Government wakes up and realises the hugely detrimental impact these cuts are having to our children and our society,’ Fiona added.
‘School nursing is a critical service and it needs to be treated as such.’
The RCN has also published a new edition of its toolkit for school nurses providing information to support and develop professional practice.