Whanganui on target to achieve one of the country's highest B4 school check rates

23 January 2013
Whanganui’s success in screening pre-school children is not only well above average but six months into the 2013/14 year, Whanganui is fourth equal on the leader table and sitting at seven percent above the national average.
Whanganui District Health Board portfolio manager maternal child and youth health Jon Buchan says thanks to the dedication and persistence of staff within the region’s general practices and primary health service, Whanganui is well on track to knowing at least 90 percent of its pre-schoolers will be screened,” Mr Buchan says.
The Ministry of Health’s 80 percent target for the 2012/13 year has been lifted to 90 percent for 2013/14 which Mr Buchan is quietly confident will be achieved, and possibly bettered, in Whanganui. Significantly, the WDHB district achieved an 88 percent screening rate of children eligible for the check in 2012/13 – eight percent above target
Under the B4SC service, as it is known, every child who is four years of age is entitled to a free B4 School Check which sees them receive a comprehensive health assessment conducted by their practice nurse or the outreach team of specially trained nurses managed by Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) B4 School facilitator Janine Spence.

Mrs Spence says the best time for this check is soon after the child has turned four, as this allows time for any identified problems to be rectified before the child starts school. She urges all parents and caregivers of four-year-olds to complete the check in order to ensure their child is ready to learn once they start school. The check is not available once a child turns five.
Meanwhile, Mr Buchan says B4 School Checks provide parents, whanau and caregivers with the opportunity to ensure any health concerns their child may have, are identified and actioned before the child starts school.
“The idea behind the service is to ensure children have the best possible start to their school education with any health and development barriers to learning identified and supported,” Mr Buchan says.
“If for example, a child is found to have a hearing difficulty which could impact on their learning, they will be referred to an appropriate specialist. B4 School Checks cover vision, hearing, growth, dental, weight, immunisations, speech among others.”
Mrs Spence is happy to discuss any questions people may have about the checks. She will be available on 0800 775 001 or (06) 348 0109 from 27 January.

Caption: Whanganui Regional Health Network B4 School Check facilitator
Janine Spence carrying out a B4 School Check.