24 October 2016

Pressure of paperwork on School Nurses is 'alarming' says Children's Commissioner.

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School nurses are increasingly finding their time taken up with safeguarding, child protection and case conferences rather than face to face contact with children and young people.

In a recent review by the Children’s Commissioner for England, the reduced time that school nurses are able to spend face to face with children was labelled as ‘alarming’. Despite the obvious value of trusting relationships built on face to face contact in the prevention of abuse and promotion of health and wellbeing, school nurses are increasingly finding their time consumed by paperwork and administrative tasks.

Nearly 800 school nurses across England responded to the request for greater insight into their workload, which showed that on average, twice as much time is spent on paperwork as on face to face contact with children. Compounded by a reactive rather than a proactive approach that most school nurses reported having to take, it’s no wonder that the majority of children and young people are unaware of the service that’s available to them.

The increase in paperwork and consequently the reduction in time spent face to face with children has been linked with the increase in child protection cases rejected by social services. The school nurses who responded in the survey felt this increase was due to excessively high thresholds for action on child protection issues combined with a perceived communication barrier with social services.

Almost half of all the nurses who responded felt unhappy with more than 50% of referral outcomes. With shortages in primary care in paediatric services settings regularly highlighted in the media, it begs the question as to where can children access the health services they need?

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