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Pilots in the north west of England are creating new support worker roles that are helping improve local school nursing services. Joe Lepper reports.
In the 2004 public health White Paper, Choosing Health,1 ministers unveiled an ambitious agenda to improve children's health services, including a massive expansion plan for school nursing.
It pledged that by 2010 every secondary school and cluster of primary schools would be have a school health team, led by a school nurse.
Three years on, progress has been patchy with many school nurse teams reporting that cash-strapped PCTs are still failing to divert extra funding into children's health. Late last year, the CPHVA estimated an extra 300 school nurses a year would need to be trained to meet Choosing Health targets.
But despite this gloomy national picture, the future looks brighter for some school nurse teams across the north west of England, after 31 trusts in the region took part in an innovative pilot aimed at improving school health provision.
The pilot, which took place between March 2005 and March 2006, is known as the School Health Workforce Rapid Roll Out Programme, and was commissioned by the NHS's improvement and research agency, the Care Service Improvement Partnership (CSIP). It was run by the three strategic health authorities (SHAs) for the area, which were superseded during reorganisation last year by the North West SHA.
PCTs were asked to come up with plans to …