A SHORTAGE of school nurses in Blackburn with Darwen has been identified as part of a health and safeguarding review.

Vacancy rates within the service are running at 25 per cent, according to an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The watchdog conducted a five-day inquiry into health provisions in safeguarding and for looked-after children earlier this year.

Inspectors also noted that while a swift response was ensured for young people facing a mental health crisis, there was no evidence checks had been made for potential ligature points within the A&E department.

Several areas of good practice were identified, for the borough council, clinical commissioners, East Lancashire’s hospitals and Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, as a result of the visit.

Ten key recommendations have now been identified, to improve services, and action plan will be pulled together by the four bodies.

Commenting on the school nursing service, the CQC inspection report stated: “There was a vacancy rate of 25 per cent which leaders and practitioners told us impacted upon the team’s ability to always fulfil all aspects of their role in a timely manner.

“Caseloads were higher than the national average,which also meant that not all school nurses were accessing safeguarding supervision sessions due to time constraints.”

The watchdog also expressed concerns that referrals from the borough’s multi-agency safeguarding hub were “inconsistent and often of poor quality”.

And it was felt joint working relationships between emergency and urgent care departments, and rehab agency Change Grow Live, were not sufficiently robust when it came to identifying possible follow-up work for children and young people who arrived at hospitals with alcohol and drugs problems.

The inspection recorded the experiences of 79 children and young people from the borough over five days in June.

One immediate pledge will see any non-serious paediatric injuries, treated by the area’s hospitals, notified to his or her GP, so they, and health visitors and school nurses, receive a full picture regarding a young person’s full medical history.