School nurses not trained for NICE alcohol plans

Three-quarters of the school nurse workforce may not be able to implement NICE guidance on tackling alcohol abuse in schools, a union has warned.

NICE guidance [www.nice.org.uk/PHI004] for schools on cutting alcohol use in children and young people calls for staff including school nurses to give one-to-one counselling to pupils thought to be drinking harmful amounts of alcohol.

These staff should also lead education programmes aimed at children who have not yet started drinking, the guidance says.

It highlights underage drinking as a widespread problem – in 2006, 21 per cent of children aged 11-15 reported drinking alcohol in the past week. Over half – 55 per cent, had drunk at least one alcoholic drink in their lifetime.

Ros Godson, professional officer for schools and public health at Unite/CPHVA, said the union backed the NICE guidance. But she warned that three quarters of nurses working in schools were not fully qualified school nurses, and could not teach classes or deliver one-to-one advice.

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

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