Inhalers in Schools

Margot has spearheaded a national campaign to improve emergency asthma care in schools. Asthma is the most common health condition amongst children; 1.1 million suffer from it, which is two children in every classroom. It is estimated that 62% of children with asthma have had an attack at school, and 64% have been without an inhaler in school having lost, broken or run out of their own.

Several constituents wrote to Margot after generic asthma inhalers for emergency use were removed from local schools. This followed a successful asthma care pilot scheme in Dudley, run by a children’s asthma nurse specialist who worked with the local schools to ensure that an asthma policy, including having emergency inhalers on site, was in place. An evaluation showed that as a result of the scheme the number of A&E attendances for asthma attacks had halved between 2006 and 2007. However, after the withdrawal of these emergency inhalers it was found that only 1 in 4 children with asthma in Dudley were carrying their own spare inhaler with them; leaving them at risk, should they have an attack whilst at school.

After further investigation it was found that the pilot scheme had been withdrawn because the Medicines Act (1968) prohibited inhalers being kept for generic use, only providing an exemption for the armed forces, RNLI and mountain rescue teams. As a result Margot led a campaign in conjunction with local parents, schools, medical professionals, the local authority and Asthma UK to change the law so that spare inhalers could be kept in schools. Margot was delighted when, following extensive lobbying, the Health Minister responsible for medicine regulations, Earl Howe, agreed to support her recommendation and extend the exemption.

Following this campaign the Government launched a six week consultation and subsequently an amendment was made to the Medicines Act to allow schools to keep a spare inhaler. The new policy came into effect on 1st October 2014.