New legislation was passed in Westminster this week to allow schools in the UK to keep spare adrenaline auto injectors (AAIs) for emergency use. AAI devices deliver a potentially life-saving dose of adrenaline in the event of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). The legislation comes into effect from 1 October 2017.
A working group, made up of representatives from the Anaphylaxis Campaign, Allergy UK, the British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology
(BSACI), the British Paediatric Allergy Immunity and Infection Group (BPAIIG), and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), has campaigned over the last two years for the Government to amend the Human Medicines Act to allow schools to buy AAIs from a pharmaceutical supplier, without prescription, for use in emergencies. The working group and their respective organisations have welcomed the new legislation which allows school staff to administer the emergency AAI to any child who has been assessed as being at risk of anaphylaxis.
Their campaign gained a huge groundswell of support from parents and teachers: over 1600 parents/carers and 800 teachers completed a survey in 2015 to assess support for the campaign: over 99% of parents and 96% of teachers were in agreement with the proposal. The survey formed a crucial part of the evidence presented to the Department of Health to support the campaign. A public consultation by the Department of Health this year also found overwhelmingly support for a change in the law to allow schools to hold spare AAIs, without a prescription, for use in emergencies.
A joint statement from the four organisations says:
“The rise in food allergy among young people is posing a significant risk for schools who can be faced with a life threatening situation which needs urgent action. One in five fatal food-allergic reactions in children happen at school. Schools can now purchase the first line treatment for an anaphylactic reaction, without a prescription. While not compulsory, we are sure that many schools will take advantage of this change in the interests of their duty of care for those children who are at risk of anaphylaxis. The change is likely to increase awareness and staff training to recognise and treat anaphylaxis in school.
For a parent of a child at risk from anaphylaxis this represents an important reassurance that their child will have emergency treatment available on the school premises and we are delighted that our campaign has delivered the result we hoped for.”
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