Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
I am pleased to provide you with a summary of progress in implementing the School Nursing Framework, which I launched on 18 May 2017 in Ysgol Bae Baglan, Port Talbot. The Framework sets out the Welsh Government’s expectations for school nursing services in Wales and has the stated aim to build a service for children and young people that is safe, accessible and of a high standard, with a standardised approach across Wales.
By focussing on children’s needs, the Framework aims to proactively build on the Healthy Child Wales programme (0-7 years). It requires that there is an identified registered school nurse to every mainstream secondary school and its cluster of feeder primary schools. It stipulates that the service is to be provided by the NHS on an all-year basis and will be delivered through a prudent healthcare approach that utilises the expertise from the skill mix within the teams making up the school nursing services.
Health Boards have already achieved several components of the Framework. This includes all year round provision of registered school nurses, with a nurse named against each comprehensive school and its cluster of feeder primary schools. There has also been development of the skill-mix within school nursing teams, especially in relation to providing specific staff to support immunisations. For example, the ‘flu’ campaign can take over the school nurse’s workload for the three months of the vaccination season, preventing the nurse from doing other work. Health Boards have utilised funding and skill-mix to overcome this by employing immunisation teams. This has resulted in the release of the registered school nurses to provide the roles set out in the framework and increasing accessibility to pupils.
Welsh Government officials have been working in partnership with leads of NHS services to implement the framework and plan improvements for the future. A ‘Think Tank’ for school nursing service leaders was held in October to take forward issues such as skill-mix, future workforce planning and monitoring of performance against the new Framework standards.
Some pressures noted during the implementation period have included the identification of suitable venues for early evening and school holiday drop-in sessions. Welsh Government officials have linked school nursing leads with education partners to collaborate on schemes such as ‘Food and Fun’, to ensure a joined up approach and enhance accessibility.
Another identified barrier has been the training need in relation to the support of emotional health and wellbeing. A collaboration linking the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in-reach pilot project, education and school nursing has enabled the Welsh Government to support the provision of training across education and health on this issue.
I believe that an effective school nursing service maximises children and young people’s resilience and empowers them to make informed choices about their health and wellbeing. It is proactive in providing early intervention and advice when it is needed and is trusted and valued by children and young people.
To ensure that this Framework is implemented fully across Wales, the Welsh Government has set up an implementation and monitoring group that will begin its work in the New Year.
Work is underway to develop a new model of school nursing to support children with special needs. This will be aligned to the requirements set out in the Additional Learning Needs Bill, if enacted and will utilise a team around the family approach. This work is an adjunct to the existing school nursing framework and will in the future ensure all children in Wales receive a consistently high standard of care wherever they receive their schooling and will be launched following consultation in 2018.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.