1:29pm Friday 16th May 2014
CRADLEY MP Margot James is urging people to have their say in a public consultation which could overturn rules preventing schools from keeping emergency asthma inhalers.
The Conservative MP secured the launch of the consultation after raising fears that a lack of emergency asthma provision in schools was putting lives at risk.
Ms James raised the matter with the health minister responsible for the regulation of medicines, Earl Howe, urging him to accept a recommendation of the Commission on Human Medicines that regulations should be changed to allow schools to keep a spare salbutamol inhaler for use in emergencies.
The changes sought under the consultation, which runs until Friday May 30, would allow schools to keep a spare or generic inhaler for use if a pupil suffers an asthma attack without access to their own inhaler.
They are currently banned from keeping spare inhalers as they have not been prescribed for individuals.
Guidance for schools on how to use emergency inhalers is also being considered under the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) consultation, which is expected to be launched within days.
Ms James said: "I am delighted the MHRA has launched a consultation on this issue and I certainly encourage all interested parties to respond.
"It is vitally important for schools to be able to keep a spare inhaler for use in emergencies, and the change will help safeguard children with asthma, preventing unnecessary hospital admissions or even avoidable deaths.
"The consultation will help to shape the regulations and guidance for schools, and ensure they have the greatest possible impact."
The MP took up the issue after she was contacted by concerned parents. She also held a meeting with representatives from Dudley Council, Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Asthma UK and Dudley schools.
A recent review of asthma deaths by the Royal College of Physicians deemed almost half of asthma-related deaths as preventable and it called for the establishment of a national audit of asthma care.
Ms James said: "It is a scandal that after years of education about asthma there are still so many preventable deaths, and it is especially tragic when a child dies from a condition that their parents thought was something trivial.
"I look forward to the changes in these regulations, which will allow schools to provide an inhaler should a child not have their own with them in school. Undoubtedly, this will reduce hospital admissions and in a few cases lives will be saved."
The changes are expected to be introduced in October 2014.
The public consultation document can be found at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposals-to-allow-the-supply-of-salbutamol-asthma-inhalers-in-schools-for-emergency-use-mlx385
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