Almost half (46%) of primary school pupils with Type 1 diabetes report their parents have had to reduce hours or give up work to help them administer insulin injections, according to a new report from Diabetes UK.
Around a third (29%) of their secondary school counterparts have the same experience, according to the State of diabetes care in the UK 2009 report for which 661 children and young people with Type 1 diabetes were surveyed.
The survey also found that 65% of the primary school pupils questioned and 87% of the secondary school pupils, thought school staff did not have enough training in diabetes.
There are 20,000 children under the age of 15 with Type 1 diabetes in the UK and a 2008 Diabetes UK survey of primary schools in England found 52% of schools have children with diabetes yet 70% of these schools said parents had to come in to administer insulin.
The charity said it was worried about how prepared schools were to help these children for whom misjudged doses of insulin injections can result in hypoglycaemic episodes (hypos) or missed injections resulting in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Diabetes UK chief executive, Douglas Smallwood, said: “It is completely unacceptable that parents of children with diabetes are forced to forfeit their careers and risk financial hardship because of medical policy failings in schools.
“It is vital pupils have the correct support to control their condition within the school setting if they are to protect their short- and long-term health.”
Mr Smallwood referred to the recent death of Stockport pupil Sam Linton, who had asthma, as an example illustrating the need for the new government to address the “long-standing failings” in support of children with long-term medical conditions in UK schools.
“There is currently a postcode lottery with regard to effective partnerships between schools, local authorities and primary care organisations,” he said.
“There are pockets of good practice but this must spread throughout the country to avoid children’s health, quality of life and education being irreparably damaged.”
Diabetes UK said it was concerned that without a statutory duty on schools and PCTs, adequate support and full inclusion for pupils with diabetes and other long-term conditions would remain a lottery.
The charity called on the government to ensure children with diabetes were recognised as a vulnerable group, and that appropriate support was provided by fully trained staff so the revised Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings document should be published as soon as possible and sent to all schools.