Warning over staff help for sick pupils

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Thousands of staff provide medical care to pupils in Leeds schools without proper training, says their union.

Every day support staff such as teaching assistants assist children with conditions like asthma and diabetes, which means helping them with tasks like insulin injections.

Other medical procedures include feeding children through tubes in their noses or stomachs and helping them with oxygen machines and catheters.

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Bill Chard, lead GMB officer for schools in Yorkshire, represents around 4,000 support staff working in schools run by Leeds City Council and around 800 in Kirklees.

He said the “vast majority” of the employees he represented in those areas were not properly trained to carry out such procedures. And he warned this was putting youngsters at risk.

Mr Chard said: “People doing these tasks might or might not have been on a First Aid course and they’re dealing with injections, catheters, feeding tubes.”

He said: “In most cases someone has just given them a briefing. If they make a mistake, something could happen to the child. They should be properly trained so they can carry out these tasks without risk to the child.”

Few schools have a dedicated medical room, so employees often use staff rooms or toilets to administer medical care instead.

The revelations follow a national survey by the GMB, which found 40 per cent of school support staff hadn’t had relevant professional medical training for duties they undertake.

Mr Chard believes the problem is so severe in Leeds that you could “probably double” that figure.

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services in Leeds, said: “Training in care and positive handling techniques towards children is available for all school support staff in Leeds.

“Additional training is provided to anyone dealing with a child with an intimate care plan in place.”

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