‘Thousands of pupils at risk’ over lack of proper school health plan

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THOUSANDS of children with long-term medical conditions are being put at risk every time they go to school, a group of charities has warned.

Youngsters in England who suffer from conditions including type 1 diabetes, asthma and epilepsy could suffer “dangerous consequences” because their schools do not have adequate medical conditions policies in place, according to the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance.

The Alliance, a coalition of more than 30 charities and health organisations including Diabetes UK, Asthma UK and Crohn’s and Colitis UK, said that without such policies, staff may not know how to properly care for such children.

An investigation conducted by the charities concluded that almost nine in 10 could not present an “adequate” medical conditions policy - which have been mandatory since September 2014.

The charities looked at 200 schools randomly selected across England, including state primary and secondary maintained schools, academy trusts, free schools and sixth form colleges, using information obtained through school websites or Freedom of Information requests.

Of these, only 23 schools (11.5 per cent) demonstrated they had an adequate medical conditions policy. And 22.5 per cent (45 schools) were deemed to have an “inadequate” policy when measured against nine statutory requirements.

The majority, 132 schools, failed to demonstrate they had a medical condition policy in place. The Alliance said this means that thousands of youngsters are being put at risk in schools.

It called on the Department for Education (DfE) to make schools aware of their legal responsibility to have such policies and for Ofsted to check that schools are complying with the law.

In a statement, the Alliance said: “The law states all schools should have a medical conditions policy outlining how to care for any children with medical conditions, the procedures for getting the right care and training, and who is responsible for making sure the policy is carried out.

“Without this document in place, staff may not know how to properly care for a child with a medical condition which can lead to very dangerous consequences, and in a worst case scenario; death.

“Ofsted need to check for medical conditions policies as part of its inspections to ensure schools are doing everything in their power to keep children safe. We’re currently in talks with the Department for Education, but it needs to be more active in letting schools know it is their legal duty to produce and implement this document.”

Parent Louise Fyfe-Taylor, from Hammersmith, London, set up a petition calling for the DfE to remind schools of their legal responsibility after she discovered her child’s school had no medical conditions policy in place.

Her daughter Jenny, who suffers from type 1 diabetes, suffered a “massive hypoglycaemic episode” while doing her cycling proficiency. Ms Fyfe-Taylor wrote: “No one had made sure she had her test kit or any glucose with her. She was made to walk back to school where it took her 40 minutes to recover.”

She added: “That’s why I am asking the Minister for Children and Families Edward Timpson to make sure every school has a long-term medical conditions policy in place.”

To view the petition visit: https://www.change.org/p/edward-timpson-mp-raise-awareness-that-every-school-has-to-by-law-have-a-medical-needs-policy-implemented.

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