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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 00:01 GMT
Schools 'failing' diabetic pupils
Child injects himself
Many young children with diabetes are unable to inject themselves
Schools are not giving pupils with diabetes the support they need and are demanding parents come in to treat their child, charities claim.

Some 70% of 2,500 schools surveyed by a coalition of diabetes charities said that when pupils could not inject themselves, parents were asked to help.

Diabetic children were also missing out on school trips, the charities said.

The report follows a study which said 83% of children with diabetes are not achieving recommended glucose levels.

This puts them at risk of a range of complications from Type 1 diabetes, including unconsciousness, fits and comas, as well as more serious longer term problems such as blindness, amputation and kidney disease.

Diabetes UK, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, support group Input and UK Children with Diabetes Advocacy Group have put together a series of recommendations.

They said while care plans did exist, schools needed to invest more in the training of staff in diabetes care and where necessary bring in outside staff who can administer injections.

Although 50% of the Local Education Authorities (LEAs) surveyed said they had funding for diabetes care, only 30% of schools knew that some form of financial support might be available.

It is simply not acceptable, the charities argue, that parents - often mothers - are having to give up work to attend to their child, and unfair on the child as it may isolate them from school life.

Numbers rising

"This research confirms what too many parents have been telling us - that children with diabetes get a raw deal at school," said Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

What's key is that schools draw up individual care plans for pupils with diabetes so everyone knows what they are doing
National Union of Teachers

Karen Addington, head of JDRF, said: "Diabetes is a legally recognised disability and all children with Type 1 diabetes have the right to appropriate onsite care to enable them to take part in a full school life, including extra-curricular activities."

The National Union Teachers said it fully supported the recommendations and would welcome provision for extra training.

However it stressed that it would always be up to the individual teacher to decide whether to help with injections, as this was not in his or her professional remit.

"What's key is that schools draw up individual care plans for pupils with diabetes so everyone knows what they are doing," said a spokeswoman.

A spokesperson from the Department for Children, Schools and Families added that pupils "with medical conditions, including diabetes, should not be prevented from taking part in school trips or participating in school sports.

"We have issued specific guidance to schools to plan effectively for trips and to adapt teaching of sports to meet individual needs. We also recommend schools should consult with parents and professionals so that pupils with diabetes can be involved."

The number of children with Type 1 diabetes is rising, with some studies suggesting it is increasing across Europe at a rate of 2-3% each year.

The reasons for this are unclear, but there has been some speculation that it may be linked to children's immune system not getting adequate exposure as a result of modern standards of hygiene.

  • According to the latest figures from information registered by GPs, the number of people in Britain diagnosed with diabetes has shot up by 100,000 in just the last year.

    A total of 2.3 million Britons are now diagnosed diabetics, and the vast majority have the Type 2 disease. A further 750,000 are believed to have Type 2 diabetes without knowing it.

    09 Feb 99 |  Medical notes

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