Review says diabetes in children must be seen as a potential safeguarding issue

SERVICES to support and manage children with diabetes need to improve, a review into the tragic death of an East Sussex teenager has concluded.
The East Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) has published the findings of a review it carried out following the death of the young person in May 2017 from a complication caused by his Type 1 diabetes.
It includes a call for the Government to provide schools with better guidance on the role they must play in working with healthcare professionals to provide joined up care.
It also says agencies working with young people with diabetes need to be more alert to risks when appointments are missed and more effective in challenging families who don’t provide adequate care. The East Sussex child whose death prompted the review was 18 when he died in hospital. In its report the LSCB has concluded that health professionals should have challenged why the child did not attend many diabetic clinics, especially as he switched from treatment as a child to being an adult.
They also should have taken action when they became aware he wasn’t taking his insulin effectively. The review also concluded that the teenager’s school did not consider his health and support needs adequately and that his problems were not properly assessed to consider wider issues of neglect or safeguarding – instead they were just considered as a health issue.
LSCB chair, Reg Hooke, said: “When the young man was admitted to hospital his condition shocked those involved in his treatment. Whilst the circumstances were very challenging to the agencies as the child and his main carer neglected his condition, a number of professionals were not aware enough of the risks of the neglect to act more robustly. This meant opportunities to provide preventative services were too often missed.”
The case had highlighted lessons that must be learned not just in East Sussex but across the country Mr Hooke said.
“The report provides a number of recommendations for how GPs, hospitals and schools in East Sussex should improve how they work together to support children with health conditions such as diabetes. These improvements are already being made locally but at a national level there needs to be a review of current practice and policy to ensure the same learning takes place across the country.”
“To that end I have written to the Department of Health and Department for Education asking them to review the guidance they provide, especially to schools, and ensure guidance makes it clear to schools that they have a key role for ensuring safeguarding procedures are used in appropriate cases where good health depends on following medical guidance. This is especially the case with diabetes. Schools and colleges may need to be better informed and educated about how to support children in these situations. The child’s school, for example, had not appreciated the significance of his weight loss.”
“This review shows the impact of this young man’s diabetes wasn’t taken seriously enough, agencies should have been more joined up in supporting him and agencies should have been more robust in challenging why he wasn’t at clinics when he should have been. Consequently he did not get the level of preventative support and intervention that he needed.”
“In East Sussex these issues are being addressed and I am pleased to say health services, schools, social care professionals are all acting on the recommendations we have made. People can live full and rewarding lives with diabetes if it is managed well. However, not doing so is dangerous and can be fatal. I hope the tragic death of this young man can leads to greater awareness nationally in how diabetes in children is understood and overseen by all professionals working with children and young people.”