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Schools can now keep spare allergy pens under new law

A change in the law allows schools to purchase spare adrenaline auto-injectors to use on children with serious allergies.
Epipen

A change in the law allows UK schools to purchase spare adrenaline auto-injectors to use on children with serious allergies

The RCN is calling on the government to ensure there are enough school nurses to instruct in their safe and proper use.

As of this month all primary and secondary schools will be able to order the extra devices, including EpiPen, Jext or Emerade, where previously pupils required a prescription.

Children with severe allergies will be able to access the life-saving treatment if they need an extra dose, or if their own device isn’t available or has stopped working.

Updated guidance

In 2015 a study of UK-wide anaphylaxis data found 17% of fatal allergic reactions in school-aged children happen

A change in the law allows UK schools to purchase spare adrenaline auto-injectors to use on children with serious allergies

Epipen
From this month all primary and secondary schools will be able to order extra allergy pens,
such as Epipen. Picture: Alamy

The RCN is calling on the government to ensure there are enough school nurses to instruct in their safe and proper use.

As of this month all primary and secondary schools will be able to order the extra devices, including EpiPen, Jext or Emerade, where previously pupils required a prescription.

Children with severe allergies will be able to access the life-saving treatment if they need an extra dose, or if their own device isn’t available or has stopped working.

Updated guidance

In 2015 a study of UK-wide anaphylaxis data found 17% of fatal allergic reactions in school-aged children happen while they are at school.

The Department of Health has also updated its guidance on auto-injectors and recommends all school staff:

  • Be trained to recognise the range of signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
  • Understand the rapidity with which anaphylaxis can progress to a life-threatening reaction.
  • Appreciate the need to administer adrenaline without delay as soon as anaphylaxis occurs, before the patient might reach a state of collapse.
  • Be aware of the school’s anaphylaxis policy, how to check if a pupil is on its register of pupils with allergies and know how to access the spare auto-injector device.

'Great news'

RCN professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said school nurses had been part of a campaign by charity Anaphylaxis UK’s calling for a change in the law.

She said: ‘This move will save lives and the success is great news for children and their families.

‘But this does not address the chronic shortage of school nurses who play a crucial role in teaching and supporting school staff in respect of anaphylaxis awareness and the use of epipens.

‘It is time the government realised the huge impact budget cuts are having. School nursing is a critical service and it needs to be treated as such.’


Further information


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