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This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Policy on asthma in schools needs improving

As five teaching staff are suspended following the death of an 11 year old boy left untreated at school during an asthma attack there are calls for more to be done
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

March 25th 2010 - Five members of school staff, including the head teacher, have been suspended following the death of 11 year old Sam Linton from an asthma attack in December 2007. Last week an inquest jury concluded neglect “significantly contributed” to the schoolboy’s death after he was made to sit in a corridor struggling to breathe and no one at Offerton High School in Stockport called for an ambulance.

The five staff have been suspended, without prejudice, while an internal inquiry is carried out. Sam’s father, Paul Linton said it was “too little, too late”.
Changes to the care of children with medical needs at the school have already been made since Sam’s death and in a letter to parents the Governing Body said it was open to any further improvements thought necessary.

Sam’s parents would like to see a new law introduced to force teachers to be trained to deal with serious medical emergencies.

In an e-mail Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK agreed, “This tragic event reinforces the urgent need for mandatory asthma training as part of teacher training, including ongoing assessment and we will be pursuing this vital requirement with Governments across the UK.”
In the meantime, what can parents do?

Advice for parents of school age children with asthma

1.1 million children, that’s one in 11, are currently receiving treatment for asthma in the UK.
The charity Asthma UK says it’s important to inform the school if your child has asthma. You should tell them what your child’s asthma triggers are and if they have any allergies. For younger children you should also make the school aware of what medication they are taking, when they need to take it and to make sure it is accessible at all times.

Also let the school know immediately if your child’s condition has shown signs of deteriorating. The majority of asthma attacks, says Asthma UK, occur after symptoms have worsened over a period of time, so it is very important that parents and children with asthma work closely with schools and health professionals to monitor children’s asthma symptoms so that they can tell immediately if a child is at risk.

Additionally the NHS recommends you tell the school about any possible side effects of the medicines your child is taking and that you discuss what constitutes an emergency and what to do, and not to do, in an emergency.

Questions to ask the school

The charity Asthma UK says parents should ask their school the following questions:

  1. Do you have a medical conditions policy?
    Having a policy is the most important thing for a school to have as it outlines the steps to take in the event of an emergency, what resources and support are available to staff and where to store medicines like inhalers at school.
  2. Do all staff get regular training in how to support children with asthma at school?
    Training is important as it teaches staff about asthma and what to do in an emergency.
  3. Do you have a Healthcare Plan for my child?
    These plans are drawn up between parent and school and include details of the child’s individual needs.

    Additionally, for primary schools:
  4. Are you storing my child’s inhaler in an easily accessible place?
    It is vital that inhalers are not locked away and that teachers and children with asthma know where they are at all times.
  5. Do you know what triggers my child’s asthma and what medicines they take?
    If not then tell them, regular communication between parents and the school is essential

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