Money should be redirected into frontline school nursing posts to combat the obesity problems affecting school children, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Wednesday, 12 December).
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, was commenting on today’s figures from the National Child Measurement Programme which showed that a third of final year primary school children are overweight or obese.
Unite also called for all secondary schools in England to have a dedicated qualified school nurse to work with the new directors of public health, once local government takes over the public health function in the spring.
Unite professional officer, Ros Godson said: “It is disappointing that, despite the considerable resources given to the National Child Measurement Programme, it is only recording the problem of childhood obesity, without having any impact upon it.
“Unite calls for a redirection of this money into frontline school nursing services, so that the problem can be prevented.
“Evidence shows that overweight children are likely to become overweight adults, so it is vital that qualified school nurses are employed across the country in sufficient numbers to coordinate all efforts to deal with this public health crisis.
“From next April, the responsibility for school nursing passes to local authorities in England, and many will inherit a greatly impoverished service which cannot cope with the demands.
“Considerable numbers of schools are now independent of local authorities, and links to integrate services have been lost.
“Unite calls on the government to insist that all secondary schools have a full-time qualified school nurse, who can work with the new directors of public health, to tackle this issue. Inaction is inexcusable, when we have such detailed data.”
For further information, please contact Ros Godson on 07764 655 762 and/or Unite senior communications officer, Shaun Noble on 07768 693940
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.