Positive feedback sees Greens widen ‘nurses in schools’ policy

4 February 2014

$40 million of the Green’s proposed $100 million School Hub policy is earmarked for nursing services in primary schools.

The Green Party first proposed in June last year employing 280 new nurses to work in decile 1–3 primary and intermediate school (at the rate of one nurse for every 400 students) as part of their ‘nurses in schools’ policy.

In late January, the Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei released its School Hub policy discussion paper that says the “overwhelmingly positive” feedback to its initial school nurse policy convinced the party the proposal should extend to include dedicated school nurses in decile 4 schools, too.

The School Hub policy now proposes employing up to 350 new school nurses in low decile schools (approximately one nurse per typically large urban primary or intermediate school) at an estimated cost of $40 million.

“By ensuring kids in low income communities get access to primary health care at school, we could make a serious dent in the 10,000 avoidable hospital admissions each year that are associated with poverty,” says the policy discussion paper.

The initial proposal in June last year prompted a to and fro-ing between Health Minister Tony Ryall, who pointed out that there were already public health nurse services in primary schools, and Turei, responding that existing nurse services were spread too thin.

The Green’s School Hub policy’s three other core components for decile 1–4 schools are a school hub coordinator per every average sized school ($26.75m), free after school and holiday care ($10m), and a school lunch programme ($11.6m). It also proposes building 20 purpose-built early childhood education centres on site at low decile schools.

The discussion paper pointed to Nelson’s Victory School and the Victory Health Centre as a model for a successful school community hub.

Nursing Review also looked at the wider issue of nursing services in primary schools and a number of primary school nursing models in a major article in our November issue: www.nursingreview.co.nz/issue/november-2013/nurses-in-the-playground/#.Uu9Sphzfa7k