06 August 2004
Nursing leaders have called on ministers to explain how they will fund a recommended boost to the school-nursing workforce.
Chief nursing officer Sarah Mullally's report on the contribution of nurses to the protection of vulnerable children calls for all primary care trusts to employ a school nurse to serve each secondary school and its cluster of primary schools.
Health Secretary John Reid has admitted that school nursing has been overlooked for too long and has said that he wants to see the NHS put right the situation.
But the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association, the union representing the majority of school nurses, has demanded to know where additional resources needed to implement the suggestions would come from.
CPHVA director Mark Jones praised Mullally's report as excellent but asked for clarification. 'The review now needs to be reinforced with a tangible commitment from politicians to provide the money to fund these recommendations,' he said.
The association has long called for an extra 500 school nurses to boost the 2,500 workforce. 'Without extra health visitors and school nurses out there in the community on a daily basis, the risk of another tragic case, such as the death of Victoria Climbié, remains ever-present,' Jones said.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said extra resources were coming on stream, with health service funding in England set to increase to more than £90bn by 2007/08. 'PCTs control 80% of the NHS budget and it is up them to decide how to take forward these recommendations,' she added.