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Vulnerable children need nurses

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A full-time, government-funded nurse in every early childhood centre and every school in the country is a central proposal in the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation's (NZNO) submission on the Government's Green Paper on Vulnerable Children.

This would improve access to health care for children, young people and their families, according to NZNO.

"Nurses can work with teachers and social workers in schools and early childhood centres to provide preventative health education, to advocate, to assess and provide brief intervention and/or referral, and to co-ordinate care for children, young people and families experiencing difficulties," said NZNO's nursing policy adviser and researcher, Jill Clendon, who wrote the comprehensive submission.

Nurses were experts at child health assessment and were able to work with families and agencies to ensure the children's health needs were met.

"Evidence clearly demonstrates that health outcomes and access to health care for children improves with the provision of school-based nursing services," Clendon said.

NZNO opposes targeted funding.

"If the government truly wants to make children a priority, then there must be appropriate funding and no funding should be removed from existing, universal, evidence-based programmes, such as the tamariki ora/well child programmes for targeted programmes," NZNO's submission states.

NZNO's submission supports the whanau ora approach to children's health services, as it provides wrap-around services. It states the government has a fundamental responsibility to provide baseline social and structural supports for all children and calls for a universal system of support for all children. Alcohol reform is essential for children's welfare, according to the submission.

NZNO supports mandatory information sharing between the social, education and health sectors in cases of suspected child maltreatment/abuse but not mandatory reporting.

But addressing the social determinants of health, eg income, employment and housing, will have the greatest impact on improving outcomes for children, according to NZNO.

Submissions on the Green Paper close today (February 28).

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