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Concern over schools' diabetes support

PUBLISHED: 13:00 02 March 2011 | UPDATED: 13:37 02 March 2011

A diabetes medical kit.

A diabetes medical kit.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2008

Schools in the west of Norfolk need to do more to help children with diabetes and their parents, according to a new report.

Families feel let down by the lack of support from schools in the King’s Lynn in helping their children to manage diabetes, according to a patient watchdog.

Parents told the Norfolk Local Invlovement Network (Norfolk LINk) of having to go into schools to supervise their children’s insulin injections, of youngsters being thrown out of class because a teacher mistook an insulin pump alarm for a mobile phone, and a lack of understanding of hypos (episodes of low blood sugar) and the impact food and exercise can have on children with diabetes.

Norfolk LINk is now asking for the education authority to establish a long-term arrangement for delivering educational sessions to schools in the King’s Lynn area.

The report into children’s diabetes services in Norfolk will be discussed at the Norfolk Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on tomorrow.

Norfolk LINk contributed to the report by holding three meetings with parents of children with diabetes in King’s Lynn, Norwich and district, and Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

One parent said their child had been excluded from two school trips because of their diabetes, and another said: “It is a shame that you have to almost threaten some schools with court action for discrimination before they take you seriously. That is exactly what happened with my child.”

Another parent said: “I had to go to the school a couple of times a day to give the injections although I had a part-time job and a younger child to care for.”

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We work hard to support schools to ensure children with diabetes are getting the level of care they deserve and expect and this includes providing training and advice to staff.

“We are grateful to LINk for highlighting these individual issues, which we had not been made aware of prior to this report. We will explore what further work may be needed, particularly in the west of the county, to ensure young people’s education is not affected by the condition.

“Where we are aware of specific concerns, we will do everything we can to support families and schools in coming to the best solution for the child or young person.”

Other concerns raised in the report include calls for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to employ a full-time paediatric special dietician and for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, to develop its own insulin pump service and publicise psychological support for parents.

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