A four-year-old boy with diabetes will not be able to start school before mid-October because of delays in teacher training, according to health bosses.
The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has admitted that staff shortages mean it will be another four weeks before they can provide the statutory training required to enable the Bangor child to start school.
Little Josh Todd, who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, requires regular injections of insulin.
But, as revealed by the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday, staff at his chosen school, Bloomfield Primary in Bangor, have not been trained by the trust to administer the vital medication.
He is therefore unable to begin Year 1 alongside his classmates.
The trust said yesterday it had only one specialist diabetic nurse — although it is in the process of recruiting a second — and that it would be October before the training could be provided.
According to Josh’s concerned parents, Helen and David, the trust and the South Education and Library Board have both known since April which school their son was due to attend.
“It is not like they have not had enough time to get the training sorted,” said Mrs Todd. “Everything is being held up by the trust. I will not stop fighting until my son gets into a school.”
Mr and Mrs Todd cannot afford to give up their jobs to go to school everyday to inject their son with insulin.
But SDLP health spokesman Conall McDevitt, a former member of the education committee, said: “It is the state’s duty to ensure there’s adequate provision in schools. It is not the parents’ duty.” And he has called on the Education Minister John O’Dowd to properly legislate for diabetes sufferers at school. The family has now been told it will be mid-October before training can be completed. ”The Department of Education does not take responsibility for the fact that schools are not statutorily bound to administer insulin,” said the South Belfast MLA.
“Josh Todd has been caught in the trap on this. Ultimately the call rests with the minister and I’m calling on him to address this urgently.”
It is understood the issue will now be raised with the education committee, health committee and Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner.
When the SEELB was asked about the policy for enrolling children with medical conditions, a spokeswoman said: “The board would confirm that schools have a duty to accept pupils through the open enrolment process.
“For those pupils with a medical complaint, schools are expected to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate the enrolment of the pupil. Reasonable adjustments may include specific training for staff.”
Commenting on the issue, which falls between two departments — education and health — Mr McDevitt added: “The administration of medication in schools is a Department of Education matter but there is a significant gap in terms of health policy in this area.”
Josh Todd (4) was due to mark his first day at school last Friday. His mother Helen had bought the little boy’s uniform in anticipation of his first day at Bloomfield Primary School in Bangor. But their hopes were dashed when the school said it would not be able to deal with Josh’s Type 1 diabetes which requires regular injections of insulin.
The problem here is that, currently, the onus must be on the school to work with the parent on this but as a child is being deprived of his education ”He must now show that he can provide legislation that protects the basic human right for Josh Todd, the right of an education.”Staff training is ordinarily provided by colleagues in health trusts before a child would commence school. That training ensures school staff are full conversant with correct procedures and techniques in addressing the child’s specific medical needs.
“Unless the specific training has been fully provided and the staff competency confirmed a school is unable to take the child into class.”