School nurses’ workloads could cause them to miss signs of abuse

The Children’s Commissioner for England has stated that school nurses are spending so much time on paperwork that they could potentially be missing children who are being abused or subject to neglect.

In a recent report based on the responses from 775 school nurses, it was found that nurses were not getting enough time to spend on proactive work such as health education.  They were also finding themselves less accessible to children and young people because of their heavy caseloads.

Of the nurses surveyed, 13% said they spent most of their day filling in paperwork.

Some nurses were found to be responsible for the health and wellbeing of thousands of children, with two thirds looking after more than 5 schools each.

Child protection was seen as a serious concern.  Twenty three per cent of 409 nurses said that they had difficultly contacting social workers and social services when they had concerns about children.  Forty one per cent of 382 nurses also said that they were unhappy with the outcomes of at least half of the referrals they had made to social services.

Increasingly, nurses were seen to be picking up work traditionally done by social workers.  A fifth said that they felt the child protection caseload was such that it was limiting their ability to do other things, such as their face to face work.

Numbers of equivalent full time nurses have dropped over the last six years from 2,987 in May 2010 to 2,630 in May 2016.

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