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Prime minister asked to address child health inequalities

An 11 year-old from Southgate in London last week called on the prime minister to address the inequalities faced by children and young people with health conditions at schools in England.

Harrison Ward (pictured centre), who has type 1 diabetes, told Mr Brown about his experiences at school to help health charity Diabetes UK raise awareness of the problems faced by some pupils with health conditions.

To tackle this issue, Jim Cunningham MP (pictured far left) is putting forward the Schools (Health Support) Bill, which had its second reading in Parliament on Friday (8 May 2009).

Harrison said: "I am lucky that my school is pretty good at helping me to manage my diabetes. We had a few problems when I was first diagnosed but now I am able to enjoy all the activities that my classmates do.

"I love sports and am in the football team at school, which I really enjoy. I know that some children aren't as lucky as me, though, so I hope that telling Mr Brown about the issue will help to make things better for us all."

Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive at leading health charity Diabetes UK, said: "Some schools do a fantastic job of ensuring all pupils enjoy a full school life, but it is appalling that some do not get the support they need at school to manage their health condition.

"Some children with diabetes are excluded from school trips or denied the school of their choice, and others have to change their insulin regimen to fit around school timetables regardless of what's best for their diabetes control.

"These children and young people are largely invisible in education policy so it is difficult to see how services can be planned and provided to ensure they get the best possible education and that their health is protected.

"We are calling for as many MPs as possible to back Jim Cunningham MP's Schools (Health Support) Bill and help change thousands of lives."

Diabetes UK

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Yes, but they should be properly qualified nurses with experience of dealing with childhood epilepsy, diabetes, asthma etc, paid as the professionals they are and allowed to make medical decisions. Employing non-qualified, cheap staff in the guise of "nurses" not only belittles real nursing staff but is highly dangerous." - Claire Jenkins-Robinson, Staines

"Unfortunately it all comes down to money. If children with diabetes were protected with a statement of SEN (and the money that comes with that statement) schools would have more resources to employ an appropriate person, whether school nurse or well trained teaching assistant. Until
then these children will go on being neglected." - Julie Horsnell, Essex