No teacher can be expected or instructed to administer any medicine to a child. NUT Advice to members is that they should not volunteer to administer, or supervise self-administration, of medicines for children, unless they have appropriate medical training and experience, such as a nursing qualification.
The Union advises schools that they should seek to employ people who have such qualifications, preferably amongst teaching support staff (where the individual is not in charge of other pupils and can more easily attend to an emergency).
Procedures need to be in place to summon trained assistance without delay and without endangering other pupils. All known serious risks should be assessed and an individual care plan put in place, and monitored for effectiveness.
Suffolk LEA has issued its Policy Framework entitled "Supporting Pupils with Medical Needs and Administering Medicines in School", issued 2001. Each school should have its own working policy document based on the Countys framework.
Extracts from the Suffolk LEA document:
2.1 The administration of medicines to children is the responsibility of parents and there is no legal or contractual duty on headteachers or school staff to administer medicine or supervise a pupil taking it.
3.2 The Schools Health and Safety Policy and arrangements, endorsed and adopted by the Governing Body, should include procedures for supporting pupils with medical needs and for managing medication. The implementation of the policy is the responsibility of the headteacher.
3.5 Teachers share the general legal duty of care for their pupils but they have no obligation either to administer drugs routinely or to supervise children taking medicines. However, there is no reason why teachers cannot help if they are willing to volunteer and have been given appropriate training, and are acting with the written approval of parents and in accordance with the schools policy.
3.7 Where medicines are to be administered at a school, the Headteacher should ensure that a named person is responsible for medicines together with a nominated deputy. These members of staff should be suitably trained to undertake the responsibility.
6.2 Injections may only be administered by a qualified nurse or doctor or by a person who has been trained to undertake this task. Under no circumstances should an untrained person attempt an injection.
6.3 Pupils who may experience an extreme allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) triggered by food stuffs or wasp stings, for example, will require an individual care plan. This will include immediate contact with the Emergency Services and/or local medical practice and the administration of drugs as previously agreed.
The policy also includes model agreements with parents, including for school visits and exchanges. It also provides guidance on analgesics and short-term use of medicines.
The Union reminds members that teachers are not required to administer medicines. Members are advised not to volunteer to take on such a responsibility, unless they have already had the proper training, are properly equipped to take on the responsibility and wish to volunteer. First Aiders are not necessarily trained for such a responsibility and it should not be considered part of their "duties". Headteachers should not make arrangements which commit staff to "volunteer", or which place untrained classroom staff in a situation where they are the only persons available to administer medication, or life-saving treatment, where the possible need for such action is foreseable.
Training for any volunteers must be thorough, practical and have quality control, in order to be considered "appropriate". A 5-minute talk or written instructions would not suffice.
In an unexpected life-threatening emergency, all staff must act as "responsible adults" and render whatever assistance they can, within their experience and knowledge. In many cases, this may be restricted to calling the emergency services and following instructions.
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