School nurses urged to set-up text and out-of-hours services


School nurses are being urged to make use of a range of new resources to ensure that students know they exist.

As part of the School Nurse Development Programme the Department of Health has published a range of materials to help. They include posters, factsheets, PowerPoints (for assemblies) and other publicity materials which can be downloaded online.

Ministers are also hoping that this term will see a rise in students using text and out-of-hours websites to contact their school nurse. It comes after the Department of Health, in consultation with young people from the British Youth Council, formed plans that would allow students to text or email their school nurse for quick advice or to make appointments.

Around 300 young people, known as “school nurse champions”, were found earlier this year to help the Department of Health to implement the idea. However, while some school nurses are providing such services this term, the plans have yet to be rolled out.

Unions have criticised the texting idea, pointing out that there are only 1,104 full-time qualified school nurses for nearly seven million state-educated children.

Professionals have also warned that an increase in demand for school nursing services could backfire if an overstretched system fails to deliver. 

Royal College of Nursing chief executive, Dr Peter Carter, said: “Moves to increase access for pupils are especially important as these can be sensitive interactions. However, school nurses are already overstretched and we must make sure there is the resource to meet demand. To ensure that is not just empty rhetoric the government needs to deliver the investment that this essential service needs.”

Sharon White, professional officer at the School and Public Health Nurses Association, added: “Marketing the school nursing service in such a positive way brings with it a risk of placing more demands on areas where services are already under great strain. In raising expectations this could backfire when they can’t deliver to parents and schools what is expected.”

Outgoing public health minister Anne Milton said: “We want to make it easier for young people to use the school nursing service and get good health advice. One of the keys to this is to make pupils aware of what school nurses can do for them and how to find them.”

Elsewhere in the British Youth Council research, the top five issues that students aged 11 to 19 wanted advice about from the school nurse were drugs, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, stopping smoking and how to access other health services such as counselling.

Download the school nurse resources at


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Claim Free Subscription