A pilot scheme at an NHS Trust offering a school nurse messaging service has had such a positive response that it is being rolled out permanently.
Rather than seeing a school nurse in a weekly clinic, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s mobile service enables young people to speak to a school nurse by text or via a secure, downloadable app. For the last six months it has been available to more than 4,000 youngsters across Leicestershire, and from March, all full-time students aged 11 to 19, in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, can take advantage of it. .The privacy factor is the reason why the service has been so popular - many students wanted to ask a nurse a confidential question by text, before having a face-to-face appointment, if required.
Maggie Clarke, Senior Nurse Professional Lead for School Nursing at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, says: “Nearly all teenagers in schools use mobile phones and around three quarters own highly advanced smartphones which they use to administrate every aspect of their lives, from shopping to banking, organising social activity and communicating with family and friends. School nurses need to be accessible on that platform if we are going to keep NHS services convenient and accessible for young people.”
School nurses have also reported more contact from teenage boys, who are often more reluctant to approach a healthcare professional about their problems. Enquiries to school nurses relate to a wide range of health and wellbeing issues, including drugs and alchohol, self-harm and bullying and sexual and mental health.
Watch Jimmy Endicott and Maggie Clark from Leicester PCT talk about how their new app can help school nurses interact with pupils from the 'smartphone generation':