Call for return of 'nit nurses' at school

PUBLISHED: 11:04 01 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:18 22 July 2010

AS CHILDREN across Islington get back into the swing of school, the age-old problem of nits is set to rear its head.

AS CHILDREN across Islington get back into the swing of school, the age-old problem of nits is set to rear its head.

The army of microscopic monsters are the bane of many schoolchildren and parents' lives because the head lice are easily transferred from human to human and infestations can be hard to treat.

"Nit nurses" were a regular part of school life for generations of children, but health professionals now take a dim view of regular head lice checks, saying hair examinations by school nurses are "humiliating".

Councillor Catherine West, an Islington parent and leader of Islington Labour group, is calling for nit nurses to be brought back into schools.

Councillor West said: "We need to bring back nit nurses. I'm sure lots of parents this will be nodding their heads in agreement. For parents, nits are the biggest headache.

"Islington schools should have a public health professional to deal with it. It's a big problem when it affects children's' concentration.

"We used to have nit nurses inspecting children's hair. Now all we get is a letter home saying 'please deal with it'. The trouble is that unless the school is strict with it, it never gets dealt with."

But Islington Primary Care Trust (PCT), the public health body which used to be responsible for nit nurses in Islington, has refused to reinstate nit nurses in Islington schools.

An PCT spokeswoman said: "Advice is given to parents and carers on the 'wet combing' method of prevention as research shows this is more effective at controlling infestations. School Health Advisers organise practical teaching sessions with parents and children in schools where wet combing is demonstrated."

She added: "It is no longer recommended that lotions be used as they are considered toxic, so the provision of lotions by nurses is no longer common practice.

"If a child is thought to have an infestation, letters are sent to parents to inform them of this and they are advised to check their children using the wet comb method. This practice has worked very well and has the support of the schools.

"In keeping with the need for evidence-based practice, re-instating head checks for nits would contravene recommended policy and undermine the public health work carried out by school health staff.

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