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School nursing : costs and potential benefits

By Linda Cotton, John Brazier, David M. B. Hall, Geoff Lindsay, Peter Marsh, Leon Polnay and T. Sim Williams


Background. Previous reports that variations in school nursing resources across the UK had no relationship to deprivation; controversy about the changing role of the school nursing service. Objectives. To measure the resources allocated to school nursing, determine whether the variations can be explained by deprivation, and assess whether the allocation of school nursing time to a range of tasks is in line with current evidence and perceptions of changing needs. Study design. Quantitative economic analysis; qualitative descriptive study. Setting. Detailed study of four English districts with diverse characteristics; staffing and service questionnaire and telephone survey of 62 districts. Main measures. Staff resources and their salaries; measures of population and deprivation; activity statistics. Results. There were wide variations in the cost of the school nursing service, but in contrast to previous reports 24% of the variance was explained by deprivation. There were no clear associations with any other social or educational variables. The greatest allocation of time was in routine screening and surveillance tasks. Relatively little time was allocated to other activities such as health promotion, support of special needs or unwell children, or teenage clinics. The expenditure on school nursing is only loosely related to deprivation and the results of this study offer guidance on what districts should spend to achieve equity of provision. Conclusions. The current allocation of resources to school nursing in between districts comparisons is not equitable and the use of school nursing time is out of step with current evidence of need and effectiveness

Topics: RT
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Year: 2000
DOI identifier: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2000.01389.x
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