From October 2014 the government has made amendments to some regulations that will now allow schools to keep a spare salbutamol inhaler for use by any child in an emergency.
Any parent who has a child who suffers from asthma, or any teaching looking after them, will probably have experienced the moment when the child has lost or forgotten their inhaler. Or worse, they have come to use it and found it broken or empty. Some schools have prepared for this in the past by getting parents to bring in spare inhalers for their children to be kept by the school (along with an appropriate care plan, consent forms etc.). The problems with this is with approximately 1 in every 11 children suffering from asthma you end up with a lot of inhalers and paperwork.
Luckily, those days are now gone. As of October 2014 the Human Medicines (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2014 allow schools to keep a salbutamol inhaler for use in emergencies.
Full guidance has been issued by the Deparment for Health entitled Guidance on the use of emergency salbutamol inhalers in schools
The Guidance states that
The emergency salbutamol inhaler should only be used by children, for whom written parental consent for use of the emergency inhaler has been given, who have either been diagnosed with asthma and prescribed an inhaler, or who have been prescribed an inhaler as reliever medication.
What Do We Need To Know About Emergency Inhalers
Unless you work in a school, there are only a few points we really need to consider
- Carrying an emergency inhaler is not a requirement, schools can choose to do so if they wish. If you have a child with asthma and have not heard anything from your school we would encourage you to get in touch as ask if they are going to implements this option (or put pressure on them to carry an emergency inhaler).
- It is only to be used in an emergency
- Parents must be notified before hand that the school is going to carry an emergency inhaler and consent for it to be used in an emergency
- Parents will be notified if the emergency inhaler has been used.
Will it Help?
Considering the ease with which inhalers function, their relative cheapness and the fixed dosage this is clearly a long overdue policy and we would encourage all schools to carry an emergency inhaler.
According to Asthma UK:
There were 25,073 emergency hospital admissions for children in the UK in 2011-2012. That means on average there were 69 per day, or one every 21 minutes.
Hopefully the ability to carry an emergency inhaler will have a big impact on reducing these numbers.