New legislation has been approved by the government to allow schools in the UK to keep spare adrenaline auto injectors (AAI) for emergency use.
AAI devices, such as EpiPen or Jext, 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 group 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 Regulations 2012 to allow schools to buy AAIs, without prescription, for use in emergencies. The new legislation allows school staff to administer the emergency AAI to any child who has been assessed as being at risk of anaphylaxis.
Their campaign has been well supported by parents and teachers with over over 99% of parents and 96% of teachers suurveyed saying that were in agreement with the proposal. The results from the survey formed a critical part of evidence that was presented to the Department of Health in support of the proposal to allow school to hold extra AAIs without a prescription for use in emergencies.
One in five fatal food allergic reactions in children occur at school
A spokeperson representing the group stated that “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 can save lives.