Home About us News “It wasn't easy finding a job in the recession… I’m so angry I’ve been forced into this decision.”

“It wasn't easy finding a job in the recession… I’m so angry I’ve been forced into this decision.”

Friday 21 May 2010

Following our recent story on the poor state of diabetes care in some UK schools, parents who have had to forfeit their careers to look after their child have been speaking out to the media.

Angela Kaur, from Willenhall in the West Midlands, spoke to Radio DJ Nihal on the BBC Asian Network on Wednesday about her experiences supporting her son Kyle at school. As a result of a lack of care for Kyle at his school, Angela handed in her notice as National Accounts Administrator at a national water cooler company last week.

'Not possible for staff to care for a child with diabetes'

"Initially after his diagnosis the school told me they wanted Kyle to come back as soon as possible, and that they should be able to cope with his needs as there were other pupils who needed special care and who had carers come in and look after them.

“But then they said it wouldn’t be possible for school staff to check Kyle’s blood, administer insulin or take any responsibility for his diabetes care as they would have to purchase additional employer's indemnity and 'there is nothing in the teachers’ contracts that states that sort of care' should be their responsibility,” said Angela.

'Couldn't he take enough insulin in the morning to see him through the day?'

"The school asked why Kyle couldn't just 'take enough insulin in the morning to see him through' and, even more unbelievably, the diabetes nurse asked why four-year-old Kyle couldn’t just measure his own blood and inject himself?"

Angela concluded the meeting by explaining that their proposals would clearly jeopardise Kyle’s health and, as a mother, she would naturally never take that risk.

"It wasn't easy finding a job in the recession and I’m so angry that I’ve been forced into this decision. We have called other schools – they both administer insulin but currently have no spaces."

Listen in to Angela's radio interview here (it begins 1hr, 39mins in)

Excluded from school because of diabetes

In March last year Becky Birchall, aged four and a half, from Plymouth, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. As a result of this diagnosis, Becky was excluded from Widewell Primary School on instruction from the Head teacher and the Chair of Governors.

The Head teacher would not allow the diabetes specialist nurse into the school to explain about diabetes and the effect the condition will have on Becky's day-to-day routine and simply stated 'Becky was too much of a legal risk to teachers to be at the school'.

No evidence of reasonable adjustments being made

"Becky was excluded from school for a total of seven weeks. During this time there was very little evidence that the school were attempting to make reasonable adjustments for Becky's return," explains Becky's mum, Helen.

"This had a devastating effect on our family life as I was unable to attend work for this period as I had nobody to care for Becky. It was a frustrating time of uncertainty and I had a very real fear that I would have to give up my job and be significantly worse off financially as a family," said Helen.

Read and listen to the stories

Helen and Becky were interviewed for the BBC Spotlight programme and for BBC News online – read more of their story here.

Yvonne Pendlebury from Stevenage, Hertfordshire was another parent who had to reduce her working hours after her daughter Thea was diagnosed. She spoke to ITV Anglia earlier this week – watch the report here.

If you are a parent of a child with diabetes and are having problems finding the right support in schools you can contact the Diabetes UK Advocacy Service on 020 7424 1840 or email advocacy@diabetes.org.uk.