School nurses feel the strain

17th September 2004 at 01:00
Yvonne Maunder is a school nurse in Devon. She works with six primary schools and one secondary. Here is her record of the first half of her working day.

Secondary school. Several pupils meet me on the way to my room with a "Mornin' Miss." Selina shows me her tattoo, tells me that it didn't hurt and only cost pound;30. David says he has stopped smoking again - a story I have heard for more than a year.

I am about to contact a mother concerned about her son's bedwetting, when there is a knock at the door and two Year 8 boys come in with stories about playing football. One boy clearly has bruising to his leg but the other boy has no evidence of injury and tries hard to convince me that he really needs a bandage like his friend.

Two pupils have an appointment. They tell me they are both taking the Pill and want to stop. They want an alternative and are considering having an implant. They have a leaflet from the GP, and have highlighted anything they don't understand. I am impressed that they have thought it through and discussed it with their mothers.

At a nearby primary school, Jack in the school nursery is incontinent and has to wear a nappy. Mum is anxious about the prospect of him starting school as he smells and needs two or three baths a day. I contact her.

Back at secondary school. Pick up more messages and catch up with administration including the casualty slips that are sent to the school nurse whenever a child visits casualty. One catches my eye. It is for a girl in the school who attended AE with a stab wound. I make an appointment for the girl to see me so I can check all is OK.

I eat sandwiches and continue with paperwork but pupils come in and out of my room. Girls want sanitary towels, one wants a leaflet on how to stop smoking, another tells me that under no circumstances will she have a BCG (TB inoculation) next week. Others pay a "social call". These can be quite enlightening - I learn who got drunk at the weekend, who was arrested, who is smoking cannabis (or worse) and who may be pregnant.

One of my regular visitors, James, calls in. He has been "rugby tackled" on the field and hurt his back. I can see no marks or bruising. He says his pain is at nine on a scale of zero to 10. He cannot move freely. I ring home and speak to his step dad and then his mum. Mum says she cannot collect James as she has to go to a meeting. I say that I may have to ring for an ambulance.

Paramedics arrive at 2.20pm and are really kind to James. They explain that he will have to go to AE.

All names have been changed

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