CORONER MARY HASSELL is conducting an inquest into the death of Bow school pupil Nasar Ahmed – and horrific admissions of failure are being made.
Last November, Nasar Ahmed was a happy Year 9 schoolboy – despite having special needs because he suffered from asthma and a range of allergies. Then he stood near a fight between some other boys and was sent to detention for knocking over a litter bin in the confusion over the fighting.
No one responded when he said he felt unwell – until he collapsed, unconscious, on the floor, at which point the school managed to call the emergency services. Paramedics battled desperately to restore Nasar’s breathing and were eventually successful. They rushed him to hospital, where he died shortly afterwards.
At the inquest, Bow School nurse Goddard Edwards has admitted that he made errors in the paperwork that should have ensured Nasar received proper care – but other failings which have come to light also show that the school had procedures which were not up to the job of ensuring Nasar’s safety.
The Coroner was told that Nasar used an inhaler to control his asthma. He also had severe eczema and allergies to fish, nuts, wheat, apples and oranges and the school had two epipens to use if he displayed symptoms of an anaphylactic allergic reaction. His mother, who lived nearby, also kept the epipens to hand in case of emergency.
Mr Edwards had a formal meeting with Nasar’s mother on 3rd May 2016 to ensure the school had the correct paperwork in place to ensure that Nasar would be treated properly in an emergency. However, Edwards used the wrong form to record the information – so Nasar was recorded as having “mild to moderate” allergies rather than “severe”. There was no record of the vital epipens. Edwards admitted that there were omissions of information in the care plan.
At that meeting, not all the medication which Nasar used was recorded: Edwards was supposed to chase up the full records. He did not do so. He asked a receptionist to ask Nasar’s mother to bring a new epipen and inhaler into school – but he never checked to see if these had arrived and had been stored correctly.
Edwards called his mistakes a “complete oversight”. He went on to say “I fulfilled my duties. I am happy with the care I gave Nasar.” His statement caused shock at the inquest, with the Coroner saying – with some understatement – that she was surprised at his comment.
Arlette Matumona, a teacher responsible for pupils’ medical needs, was also questioned at the inquest – and admitted a key failing in school procedures which is possibly more shocking than what Mr Edwards had to say. She said that staff were told to look at pupils’ medical records at the start of the school year – but admitted that there was no system in place to confirm that this had been done, and no system to ensure that support staff became aware of medical needs.
Ms Matumona pointed out that support staff do not teach pupils on a regular basis, from which she inferred that it was not really necessary for them to know about medical needs – and it could even be seen as a bit nosey to look into this information. She also admitted that a once-a-year check of a pupil’s medical records might not be an adequate system.
Nasar’s family is represented by their own lawyer at the inquest. The inquest is continuing.
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