The deputy director of Public Health England for Children, Young People & Families told school nurses attending last week’s SAPHNA event in Birmingham last week that they are “centre stage at improving health and wellbeing outcomes”.

Eustace de Sousa advised them to continue working in partnership, taking an integrated and coordinated collaborative approach “as it is a more effective way of working”.

De Sousa’s talk also focused on the challenges which lie ahead. He showed graphs to explain that although there were positive downward trends for smoking, drinking and drug use, the UK’s under-15 mortality rate is now amongst the worst in Europe.

He also explained how the high levels of childhood obesity rates, which “mushroom” during a child’s school life, are another key concern of PHE, especially given the significant differences between the deprived and better off communitities.

He advised school nurses to help gather the evidence, to use their knowledge about risk and what builds resilience to help them inform both their practice. This evidence gathering would help to target help to those most at risk.

On a morale boosting level he assured the audience that “You have tremendous support at national level in both the Department of Health and Public Health England.

“Both Viv Bennett (the Director of Nursing at Public Health England ( PHE ) and Department of Health) and Wendy Nicholson (Professional Officer Nursing at DH) are passionate about what you do.”