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Mum needs police check to travel to school with son; Council bans woman from epileptic teenager's taxi.

Byline: Samantha Mendez

THE mother of a disabled and severely epileptic teenager has been banned from travelling to school with him - because she hasn't been police checked.

Jayne Jones, of Aberfan, had previously been riding in the council-provided taxi with her 14-year-old son Alex on mornings she feared he was prone to having fits.

But now officials have told her she can only travel with her son once she has under gone a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check.

Mrs Jones, a mother of two, yesterday hit out at the bureaucracy which, she says, has left her son travelling to school with no-one trained to administer specialist life-saving treatment in the event of an epileptic attack.

"I have to be CRB checked before I can ride in a taxi with my own son," she said. "And now they've said if I pass the check and am allowed to ride with him I can go to the school but then have to make my own way back to my home in Aberfan.

"I have to be checked to go in a taxi with him, but if I was able to take him in my own car they wouldn't care and even offered to pay me expenses.

"I don't want money - I need him to get back and fore to school."

Alex suffers from cerebral palsy as well as severe intractable epilepsy, and can suffer fits before school. On particularly bad mornings Mrs Jones would accompany him to Greenfield School, Pentrebach, near Merthyr Tydfil, in case she needed to give him his specialised treatment during a fit.

However, when officials at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council discovered she was travelling with her son they told her to stop. A few days later a request for a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check landed on her doorstep.

Mrs Jones, a full-time carer to Alex, is reluctantly in the process of having the check done, for which the council has waived the fee.

Alex, who was born with his condition, takes a combination of 32 anticonvulsant tablets each day, and the drop-attacks he suffers could one day kill him.

On Boxing Day last year, Alex was taken to hospital for a six-hour surgery which saw him fitted with a special lifesaving device called a VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation) therapy system.

The VNS is fitted under the skin in the chest and works like a pacemaker to help control electrical signals which can malfunction and cause him to seize.

However, Mrs Jones and her husband Malcolm, 42, are the only people trained to use the VNS therapy. His taxi escort is not trained and Mr Jones has to work, so no-one in the taxi could help Alex should he need it.

Council officials last night said they could not comment on individual cases but defended its police-checking policy.

A spokesman for Merthyr Council said: "This is a standard requirement and has been for several years. Any adult acting as an escort will, in the public gaze, be viewed as acting with the full acquiescence of the council and hence with its implied authority.

"For the protection of the council and all vulnerable persons in its care it's essential all those endowed with an authority, implicit or explicit, should meet the security requirements within the transport contract provisions."

CAPTION(S):

GO ALONE: Jayne Jones with her 14-year-old son Alex. She has attacked council bureaucracy
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 10, 2008
Words:566
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