Parents will be reassured by the Department of Health’s decision to allow schools to keep spare adrenaline auto-injectors, a lobbying group said after its two-year campaign proved successful.

New legislation that comes into effect from 1 October allows staff to administer emergency AAIs to any child who has been assessed as being at risk of anaphylaxis.

Widespread support

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) campaigned for 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 campaign had significant levels of support, with a survey showing that 99 per cent of over 1,600 parents and carers and 96 per cent of 800 teachers welcomed the proposal. This survey was a crucial part of the evidence submitted to the Department of Health. The DH also conducted a public consultation on the matter, which highlighted overwhelming support for a change in the law.

Rise in food allergies

The working group said in a joint statement that the decision will be good news for parents and “will provide valuable reassurance that their child can receive prompt emergency treatment while on school premises”.

“The rise in food allergy among young people is posing a significant risk for schools who can be faced with a life threatening situation requiring urgent action. One in five fatal food-allergic reactions in children happen at schools”, the statement said.

“While not compulsory, we hope many schools will take advantage of this change as part of their duty of care to those children who are at risk of anaphylaxis. This is likely to increase awareness and highlight the need for staff to be trained to recognise and treat anaphylaxis in school.”

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