A LITTLE girl is missing out on nursery classes because of a row over her medical care.

Alison Kelly says her four-year-old niece Lily Duffy has missed months of education because staff at the nursery for children with additional support needs are refusing to clear her tracheostomy tube of saliva.

A failure to do this could cause Lily, from Croftfoot, to choke to death.

The role was previously carried out on a voluntary basis by pupil support assistants at council-run Kelbourne Park Nursery, but staff say it is not in their job description.

Glasgow City Council and officials from the Unison union are locked in a dispute about the medical care of pupils with addit-ional needs and support assistants are taking part in industrial action.

The school has a nurse and a health care assistant but they have also refused to carry out the procedure.

Lily, who was born prematurely at 27 weeks and is in a wheelchair, has not been at the nursery for her statutory three days since October.

Alison says she is miss-ing out learning Makaton, a form of sign language, physiotherapy to help her learn to walk and the interaction with her peers.

She has written to First Minister Alex Salmond in a bid to resolve the dispute.

Alison, 55, said: "When she was first assessed, the pupil support workers were doing it on a voluntary basis.

"The unions are saying they want more money and they are right. The nurses say it is not their role.

"She now has just three hours of nursery education rather than three days.

"She's due to star school this year so we are concern-ed. She's a sociable wee girl and missing out on the interaction with her peers.

"I feel they are discrimin-ating against her human right to breathe."

Carol Bell, Unison's education convener, said: "We don't want to see any child miss out. This is part of the dispute.

"Tracheotomy care is technical work, medically, and some of our members have felt uncomfortable about doing this. It could be a life or death situation. There is a fully qualified nurse in school and a health care assistant.

"I don't understand why they are not fulfilling this duty. I know the council has been in discussions with the NHS and I'm hopeful that they will get a resolution."

An NHSGGC spokes-woman said: "Our nursing staff trained and super-vised educational staff (pupil support assistants) to provide the care required for this pupil.

"Education PSAs who previously provided this care have recently with-drawn from providing this support to pupils.

"Since learning of this case NHSGGC's Glasgow City Community Health-care Partnership has been in touch with colleagues in the council's education department. It has agreed to commission us to provide care for this child until they have appropriate staff to provide the care within the nursery."

A council spokeswoman said: "We have identified a voluntary organisation that will carry out a full assessment as soon as possible so that Lily can return to the nursery for her full entitlement."

caroline.wilson@ eveningtimes.co.uk