Axed school nurses today told of their devastation at the service being pared back by £300,000 after it emerged 15 jobs have been lost following cuts to the service.
As reported in The Gazette last week, Blackpool Council is reducing its spending on school nurses by a third – to £600,000 a year from £900,000.
The sad thing is the loss of skills to Blackpool
Health chiefs hope the staff can be found new jobs within the NHS in Blackpool.
But one nurse, speaking on behalf of all those losing their jobs and who did not want to be named, warned the move could have a serious impact on the wellbeing of children.
She said: “It has been quite traumatic for everyone to be told we have lost our jobs, but what we are most concerned about is the children.
“The school nurses put a lot of input in around safeguarding, sexual health and mental health services and work with children from some of the town’s most deprived areas.
“What they will be offering schools now is really basic.
“There will be no help on healthy eating, puberty, hygiene and no advice on sexual health, sexual exploitation or internet safety.
“They are going to help us redeploy to new jobs but everyone is very upset at losing a job they absolutely loved.”
Union leaders confirmed 15 jobs had been lost and said they hoped no-one would be made redundant.
Maggy Heaton, lead representative for the Royal College of Nursing for the Blackpool Trust, said: “The Trust is hoping there will not be any redundancies and that the staff will be redeployed.
“The sad thing is the loss of skills to Blackpool.
“School nurses are involved in a lot of safeguarding issues with children, emotional health and wellbeing and the nurses’ main concern is who is going to be doing this.”
The council has blamed cuts to its public health budget for its decision to reduce the school nurse service, which is contracted out to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
A spokeswoman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it was working with the council “to develop a new school nursing service model”.
She admitted this would mean “more limited provision” but the service “will continue to focus on the emotional health and wellbeing of young people and encouraging healthy weight.”