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Pastoral carers GET a LESSON in disease control

TUMMY bugs, meningitis, obesity and syphilis are all topics on the agenda for next week's matrons' annual conference.

More than 400 matrons and school nurses will meet in Telford to discuss some of the most challenging areas of their work, including confidentiality issues, and recognising disease and eating disorders.

Dr Kamal Nathavitharana, a consultant paediatrician in Worcestershire, will kick off the day with a session on tummies and guts, detailing everything from occasional abdominal aches to inflammatory bowel disease.

After lunch, obesity is on the agenda with Dr Krystyna Matyka advising the conference on how to recognise and tackle the problem, which is often unrecognised in pre-pubescent children.

Dr Peter Kilvert, medical officer at Rugby school in Warwickshire, will discuss how to recognise and manage common diseases such as meningitis and glandular fever. Last year he diagnosed three cases of meningitis in his school and within 24 hours had administered antibiotics to 1,500 members of the school community.

Sexual diseases will be covered in the afternoon with Dr Roger Harrington from Stowe school, Buckinghamshire. He said: "The most important part of my job is encouraging a setting in which children can talk about their private concerns."

Matrons, who are responsible for pastoral care, need only be qualified in first aid. But their day-to-day contact with pupils puts them at the front line in the battle to identify illnesses and control disease. School nurses are registered nurses and may also have a specialist school nursing qualification. Pay for both varies from pound;12,000 to pound;30,000.

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