Young people in Sefton will be able to contact their school nurse in a quick and easy way from today following the launch of a new text messaging service from Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.
Sefton residents aged 11 to 19 can send a message, anonymously if they wish, to their school nurse to get confidential help and advice about a range of health concerns, including emotional health, sexual health, relationships, alcohol, drugs and bullying.
The new service is available Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) from 9am to 4.30pm. Each message sent to the dedicated number, 07312 263 291, will receive an automated reply and a specialist community public health nurse will reply within 24 working hours.
Paula Lawrenson, team manager at the school nurse service with Mersey Care, explained, “This isn’t an emergency service, but it will help young people reach out if they have concerns or need confidential advice from a health professional.
“It gives them another option if they are unsure about talking to anyone else and we are happy to talk anonymously if that makes it more comfortable for them – we just want to make sure they’re getting the right guidance and advice for matters that can be hard to talk about.
“In other areas where it’s used young people say they feel more comfortable talking about their issues in a discreet message, while parents and carers say messaging is a more convenient way for young people to ask quick questions.”
The Sefton messaging service is run by Mersey Care and powered by the award-winning messaging platform, ChatHealth, which has been widely implemented at several NHS Trusts and healthcare organisations across the UK. It was developed in 2013 by another NHS Trust to offer more choice in how people can get help from local school nurses in their area.
Urgent help should be sought from an NHS walk-in centre or by calling NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999 or go to A&E and an automated response will signpost to these services.
Promotional materials have been distributed to schools to advertise the service in the form of leaflets, poster and digital assets for websites, school app, parents’ newsletter and some slides for schools to be shared at assemblies.