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Health Minister is wrong, school nurses are needed - Greens

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Health Minister is wrong to say that every low decile primary and intermediate school has their own dedicated school nurse, which is why principals, teachers and nurses say they are desperately needed, the Green Party said today.

In Parliament today Health Minister Tony Ryall pointed to 280 public health nurses who sometimes visit in low decile schools, but he failed to mention these nurses work in a host of community roles, and very few are dedicated solely to school nursing.

"We have already acknowledged the good work that public health nurses do in the community and in schools, but our policy is for a dedicated school nurse in every low decile primary and intermediate school in New Zealand - something the National Government is yet to provide.

"The Minister is misrepresenting the facts to hide his Government’s failure to meet the needs of our most vulnerable kids.

"Without a national primary school nursing programme, some kids are getting very little regular healthcare from nurses at school or missing out, and that’s not fair.

"Schools tell us they need more than an occasional visit by a public health nurse. Some schools have written to tell me that they only see a nurse once a month or once a term. Others say they are employing their own school nurse out of their own funds.

"This is why the Nurses Organisation called for school nurses in its submission to the Government’s Green Paper on Vulnerable Children. Despite what the Minister says, nurses should have a good grip on where in the health and education sector they are actually working.

"The teachers union NZEI have also publicly supported the policy saying it will make a real difference to their most vulnerable pupils. Despite what the Minister says, it seems logical that teachers would know if there were dedicated nurses working in every low decile school.

"Before the Government introduced its secondary school nursing programme, public health nurses would sometimes work in secondary schools.

"But that didn’t mean that teenagers were getting the comprehensive nurse-led health care at schools that those in decile one to three secondary schools are now.

"Those nurses have made a real difference to kids’ health.

"We think primary and intermediate school pupils and their families deserve a similar commitment so they can be guaranteed a basic level of health care at school.

"Children in poorer areas are three times as likely as kids in wealthier areas to be admitted to hospital for preventable reasons. These kids are not getting the healthcare they need.

"We have an opportunity to do something about this by bringing the healthcare to them at school and we will," Mrs Turei said.

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