Medicines in School
Supporting children with medical needs – Guidance for Parents
What are your responsibilities?
- Parents are responsible for making sure that their child is well enough to attend the setting and able to participate in the curriculum as normal. However, General Practitioners (GPs) may advise that children should attend or recommence school/setting while still needing to take medicines. In other cases, to enable children with a chronic illness to lead as normal and happy a life as possible, it may be necessary for them to take prescribed medicines during setting hours.
- In order for the school to plan effective support arrangements, parents must provide sufficient information about their child’s medical condition and any treatment or special care needed, at the admission stage, and keep the setting informed of any new or changing needs.
- If there are any special religious and/or cultural beliefs, which may affect any medical care that the child needs, particularly in the event of an emergency, it is the responsibility of the parent to inform the setting and confirm this in writing.
Administration of Medicines
Medicines should only be administered in settings when essential; that is where it would be detrimental to a child’s health if the medicine were not to be administered during the school or setting ‘day’.
In general staff cannot legally be required to administer medication or supervise a child taking it. This is a voluntary role although staff have a duty to act as any reasonably careful parent would to make sure that children in their care are healthy and safe.
Schools are advised not to keep medicines in the setting for general use. The exceptions to this are Paracetamol and anti-histamine, which the school keep on site. If a child needs paracetamol/anti-histamine, parental consent will be sought by phone first and a record of consent kept. The administration protocol includes a check when they had their last dose. Paracetamol will not be administered if already taken within the last 4 hours and staff will ensure the manufactures instructions are followed. A member of staff will supervise the child taking the medication.
Settings cannot be expected to take responsibility for any other non-prescribed medicines which may be brought into the setting to help with minor ailments.
Children should be discouraged from bringing cough sweets/lozenges into school.
In most circumstances the administration of medicines is the responsibility of parents. If medicines are prescribed for your child, ask your doctor if they can be taken outside of the hours attended by your child in their educational setting. If this it not possible, offer to attend the setting to administer his/her medication.
Schools and settings should only accept medicines that have been prescribed by an authorised prescriber e.g. doctor, dentist, nurse prescriber or pharmacist prescriber and include the following information:
- Name of the child/young person
- Name of the medicine
- Dose/frequency of administration
- Instructions for administration
- Date of dispensing
- Cautionary advice
- Quantity of the medicine
- Expiry date (if short dated)
Parents are responsible for ensuring medicines do not exceed their expiry date.
Medicines must always be provided in the original container as dispensed by a Pharmacist and be clearly labelled. Parents must bring in any equipment required to administer the medicine e.g. medicine spoons, oral syringes, syringes for injections, sharps containers.
Medicines should be brought to the setting by the parent or other responsible adult, and handed to a member of the office staff where details and consent will be sought. If children suffer seriously from eczema and need prescribed cream, this should be given to the school office and a consent form completed but children should be encouraged to apply this themselves.
Prescribed medicines will be stored at the office except for inhalers and epi-pens which will be kept in the classrooms where they are easily accessible unless a risk assessment highlights this to be unsuitable (with a second inhaler/Epi-pen kept in the office). Children should be trained to take their inhalers themselves but parents must inform us if supervision is required (Asthma booklet)
The school keeps an emergency inhaler (salbutamol inhaler) which should only be used by children for whom:
- written parental consent for use of the emergency inhaler has been given (recorded on Appendix 3 and 5 and updated annually),
- who have either been diagnosed with asthma and prescribed an inhaler, or who have been prescribed an inhaler as a reliever medication.
The inhaler can be used if the pupil’s prescribed inhaler is not available or broken, and a record is kept of the details on Appendix 5, and parents informed in writing.
If a child without an Epipen is believed to go into anaphylactic shock, the school will ring 999 and explain that there is an Epipen on site. The medical professionals may tell the school to use this Epipen even if it is not prescribed for that child. If this is the case, the child whose Epipen it is will also be taken to the hospital.
Some children may need long-term medication. If this is the case, the school will set up an Individual Health Care Plan with parents to agree what action they will take to support the child.
Should parents or pupils be dissatisfied with the support provided they should discuss their concerns directly with the school. If for whatever reason this does not resolve the issue, they may make a formal complaint via the school’s complaints procedure.