Asthma UK Campaign Calls On Schools To Be 'Alert To Asthma' Print

Asthma UK is today urging all schools across the UK to act now to keep children with asthma safe at school and is launching an emergency appeal for donations to fund life saving training and resources.

The charity is launching its Alert to Asthma campaign following the tragic death of Samuel Linton who died after an asthma attack at his school in Stockport. A recent inquest found that the school's negligence significantly contributed to his death which highlights a disturbing lack of awareness about a condition affecting over a million children in the UK and causes the death of the equivalent of a large classroom full of children every year.

Asthma UK is contacting every school and local education authority in the UK urging them to organise regular asthma training for all staff and to ensure they have a policy to support children with asthma. The charity is also calling for the Government to make it compulsory for schools to have a medical conditions policy in place and parents are encouraged to show their support by joining an online campaign to raise awareness.

An urgent call for funds is also being made to enable Asthma UK to support schools, for example by providing its hugely successful Alert to Asthma training for school staff. Currently this training only runs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with a pilot in the North West and urgent funds are needed to extend this across England.

Asthma UK provides a range of resources for teachers and school nurses to support early years to secondary school age pupils with asthma. Resources include the Medical Conditions at School:A Policy Resource pack*, to enable school staff to set up a policy to ensure children with asthma and other medical conditions are protected at school and a tool for school nurses to support them in delivering awareness sessions on asthma.

Key advice for teachers on how to be alert to asthma is:

ALERT Know which pupils in your class have asthma and if their asthma has been getting worse.

CHECK Make sure you know where a pupil's reliever inhaler (usually blue) is kept and you are aware of the symptoms of an asthma attack¬° a tight feeling in the chest, breathing hard and fast, coughing or wheezing, being quieter than usual/unable to speak.

TREATMENT If you believe a child is having an asthma attack they need to use their reliever inhaler (usually blue) immediately¬° preferably through a spacer. If there is no immediate improvement they need to continue to take one puff of their reliever inhaler every minute for five minutes or until symptoms improve. If no improvement in five minutes, call for an ambulance. The child should keep using their reliever inhaler every minute until help arrives.

Neil Churchill, Asthma UK Chief Executive says: Schools should be safe environments and parents and carers should be able to feel secure leaving children with asthma in their care. Three quarters of teachers in England admit to not being confident about what to do in an asthma attack, which is frankly appalling. It's vitally important that every school takes asthma seriously and has in place policies and regular training to support children with asthma to prevent avoidable deaths. With a child hospitalised every 19 minutes in the UK, we urge schools to take action now and the public to get behind our campaign by making a donation.

*downloadable from http://www.medicalconditionsatschool.org.uk

To make a donation go to asthma.org.uk, call Asthma UK on 0800 121 62 55 or email info@asthma.org.uk.

Important things to remember in an asthma attack

Never leave a pupil having an asthma attack.

If the pupil does not have their inhaler and/or spacer with them, send another teacher or pupil to their classroom or assigned room to get their spare inhaler and/or spacer.

In an emergency situation school staff are required under common law, duty of care, to act like any reasonably prudent parent.

Reliever medicine is very safe. During an asthma attack do not worry about a pupil overdosing.

Send another pupil to get another teacher/adult if an ambulance needs to be called.

Contact the pupil's parents immediately after calling the ambulance/doctor.

A member of staff should always accompany a pupil taken to hospital by ambulance and stay with them until their parent arrives.

Generally staff should not take pupils to hospital in their own car.

Other important information

It is essential that all pupils with asthma are allowed to access their reliever inhaler freely at all times. Reliever inhalers should never be kept in a locked room or drawer.

All parents of pupils with asthma should be asked to provide a spare reliever inhaler, separate from the one the pupil carries with them all the time. This ensures that if a pupil forgets or loses their everyday inhaler, a spare is available.