The following is an extract of Sharon White from SAPHNA's thoughts on the DH School Nurse Development Programme (SNDP) from the January/February 2012 edition of Journal of Family Health Care - to read the article in full,subscribe here.    

The Department of Health (DH) School Nurse Development Programme (SNDP) submitted its first report to the Minister, Anne Milton, at the beginning of February 2012.

Called "Getting it right for children, young people and families: Maximising the contribution of the school nursing team" it aims to build on the Health Visitor Implementation call to action (2011), utilising a similar framework and language throughout.

This ongoing plan aims to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes of all children and young people in the school years, including those with long-term conditions, disabilities and/or mental health problems. It also aims to build capacity in communities, including within the school population, for the prevention of poor health and for the improvement of their health and wellbeing.

Aims of the SNDP

This important work has recognised the vital contribution school nurses play by clarifying their role and function, ensuring awareness amongst current and future health and education commissioners of the vital role they play. I believe the SNDP will also help to raise the profile of school nursing as a career.

Consultation themes

A number of common themes emerged from the consultation period with children, young people and parents. Visibility was a main theme, with a suggestion that school nurses should be introduced to pupils and parents and provided with a clear outline of all the services school nurses provide, as well as contact details. Ensuring these services were easily accessible at publicised and set times, as well as offering choice, was also seen as important. On a positive note, young people said that when they knew who their school nurse was, their experience had been largely positive which encouraged them to approach them at an earlier stage to seek help for problems.

Next steps

As stated in "Healthy Lives, Healthy People" school nurses will play a key role in helping to develop local approaches to public health, provide links between public health, the NHS and schools, together with a leadership role in promoting good health and addressing inequalities.

The Public Health Outcomes Framework (spring 2012) will set these pathways out and local commissioners will undertake a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) to determine local priorities. There are numerous areas within the National Operating Frameworks (NOFs) where school nursing will have a specific contribution including:

●● Healthy child programme five to 19 years
●● Using evidence from neuro-science to inform
practice in supporting children and young people
●● Preparation and transition for school
●● School absences
●● Population vaccination cover
●● Tooth decay in children aged five

Whilst we await the feedback from the Minister, the pathway work will continue. This needs to be informed by your views, practice and examples, so please visitwww.saphna-professionals.organd look at the DH "Have your say" section for opportunities to contribute to the ongoing Programme and for regular updates on the work.

For a list of references and to read the article in fullclick here to subscribe to JFHC magazine. (picture posed by models)