School asthma policy to be revised after Stourbridge MP's campaign

Stourbridge News: Stourbridge MP Margot James Stourbridge MP Margot James

RULES preventing schools across the borough and beyond from carrying emergency asthma inhalers look set to be revised after MP Margot James highlighted fears the ban could put lives at risk.

The Stourbridge MP spoke out in August against a policy change which led to schools in Dudley and across the country being told they could no longer keep generic inhalers on the premises for use by any pupil suffering an asthma emergency.

Ms James met with representatives from Dudley Council, Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Asthma UK, Dudley schools and a former borough asthma nurse after being contacted by concerned parents.

She also wrote to Lord Howe, Health Minister responsible for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

And now following a meeting with Lord Howe earlier today (Tuesday) health chiefs now look set to recommend a U-turn on the policy - and the ban on keeping generic inhalers in schools could be overturned in less than six months.

Ms James said: “We had a very good meeting with Lord Howe.

“The Commission on Human Medicines, which Lord Howe instructed to investigate the matter of asthma inhalers in schools earlier this year, will recommend regulations be changed.

“I am delighted health ministers have acted quickly in response to concerns expressed to me by parents of children with asthma in Stourbridge, who contacted me at the end of last year when schools were suddenly instructed not to permit the use of a general asthma inhaler in the case of a child who suffered an attack and didn’t have access to his or her inhaler.

“This ruling was in accordance with the letter of the law, but in reality children with asthma were safer when Dudley was technically in breach of the law - prior to new rules sent to schools last year.”

A six-week consultation will now follow but it is expected that the regulations will be amended and schools will be permitted to stock a generic inhaler by March next year.

Ms James added: “I received an assurance from Lord Howe that he would fast track the recommendation in to law.”

The MP previously told the News she was concerned the policy was “putting young people at serious risk of a medical emergency and even death”.

The armed forces, RNLI and mountain rescue teams are exempt from the regulations - and Ms James said schools should be too.

In certain areas school chiefs took matters into their own hands and continued to hold a spare inhaler for emergency use.

Dudley education bosses, however, did not - and instead encouraged parents to ask their GP to prescribe a second inhaler to keep at school.

Rowena Jeremy, whose eight-year-old son Owen died at Russells Hall Hospital after suffering an asthma attack at Wordsley’s Fairhaven Primary School, is among those who have been calling for the law to be changed.

She said: "An asthma attack can become life threatening very quickly, so ensuring a school has a spare inhaler will mean that all children can be treated promptly and will reduce the chance of the attack becoming more serious.

"I am delighted the MHRA look set to change the regulations, and believe this policy change will greatly increase the levels of confidence parents have in a school’s ability to deal with an asthma attack.”
 

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