|Unhappy Times At Local Nursery|
Baby boy excluded for having allergies
When Miles and Susie Kendall’s 12 month old son Sam was diagnosed with severe allergies to diary, egg and nut products they thought that things couldn’t get worse.
They were wrong. When Sam’s day care, Happy Times Nursery in Ravenscourt Park, were informed of the diagnosis and that Sam had been prescribed an Epipen (a potentially life saving instrument if Sam went into anaphylactic shock) they wanted him out – that day.
A junior member of staff called Susie Kendall at her workplace and informed her that the nursery were no longer able to care for her son. Shocked, upset and with no childcare, Susie was left with no option but to take three months unpaid leave in order to find alternative care for her son.
When the Kendalls contacted Hammersmith & Fulham Council regarding registered childminders, they also inquired about the legality of Happy Times' actions. An Early Year’s Inclusion Officer, was called in to research the matter and concluded that whilst the Nursery's actions were rather extreme, they had acted perfectly within their rights to exclude Sam.
The couple wrote letters to Adam Shaw of Happy Times Nursery asking for them to reconsider their policy regarding children with allergies, a policy none of the other nurseries the Kendalls contacted agreed with. They also requested compensation for loss of earnings brought about by Susie’s inability to work.
Adam Shaw stated that "When we discovered that Sam had a potentially life threatening condition for which he had been prescribed an Epipen, we decided that he would be better cared for elsewhere because we could not guarantee his safety [from coming into contact with diary, nuts or eggs] in our nursery environment. We are perfectly within our rights to make this decision and continue to stand by it." He stressed that Happy Times believe that the course of action taken was in the best interests of Sam, the Kendall family and the nursery staff.
David Reading, Director of Anaphylaxis Campaign said, “It's important to get this into proportion. Fatal allergic reactions in pre-school children are extremely rare - in fact I've heard of only one in ten years. There are risks, but they become negligible when sensible measures are set up to manage an individual child's allergy. These measures involve a sound strategy for avoiding the allergenic food and a management plan that covers treatment of any reaction that may occur. The pre-loaded adrenaline injections that are prescribed to treat severe allergic reactions are very easy to use, and there is very little chance of anything going wrong so long as appropriate training is given.”
"Sam's exclusion came as a great shock," said Susie Kendall. "We have now arranged alternative childcare but felt it was important to publicise Happy Times' actions. Allergies are becoming increasingly common among children and excluding those affected from childcare seems both unfair and shortsighted.”
March 3, 2005