School Nurse and Public Health Nurses from across the UK had consistently called for a Professional organisation that was dedicated to their needs and, in a response to this, SAPHNA, the School and Public Health Nurses Association, was officially launched on the 1st of January 2006. At this point, having been a marginalised workforce for many decades there had never been a better time to work in the profession, which was witnessing increased focus, interest and growth.
SAPHNA was formed by a group of dedicated, experienced School and Public Health Nurses from across the UK. We are a professional organisation dedicated to the promotion of excellence in practice, taking forward the public health agenda by working in partnerships for the benefit of children and young people and the communities where they live and learn. Sharon White, Nurse, Midwife and School Nurse was appointed Professional Officer and now occupies the position of Chief Executive Officer, alongside the hard working, passionate and determined Maggie Clarke, Executive Lead Officer and SAPHNA Executive Committee and Board.
The first year was one of raising awareness, profile and membership; as always a huge challenge on top of the ‘day job’. With no dedicated funding, this had to be done using the ‘creative’ skills usefully gathered through the experience of working in such an historically poorly funded and invisible service.
From the outset SAPHNA took a firm decision to be non-union affiliated, this was to avoid the potential conflict of such and also so that we could fully focus on the professional issues, rather than those of a larger union organisation. This in itself proved to be a challenge as asking School nurses to part with additional cash for membership, was, for many, affordable. Despite this, we, still produced our own Journal, conference, events, resources and fulfilled much of our objectives.
Over the next few years, becoming members of key stakeholder groups across the UK, advocating, representing, challenging and having direct involvement in the development of key policy, guidance and research, gave higher profile and credit to SAPHNA. Global interest then followed and, as such, we have worked in many overseas area, helping to drive forward the world wide agenda for school nursing. Sharon White, CEO, recently resigned her global position which she held for 10 years, as Co-Chair of the School Nurses International.
SAPHNA is now recognised as the leading professional association for School Nursing and is a key member of strategic groups, representing and working at a national, UK and global level..
The ongoing mission of SAPHNA is to exploit each and every opportunity gained in reaching our success to drive forward School Nursing and, therefore, improve the health and well being of the children, families and communities we work for.