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Teachers need training on inhaler use

se of spacers should not replace inhaler expertise, after the government agreed to allow schools to stock the devices

The government should be wary of assuming that spacers will overcome a lack of expertise on inhaler use when schools can store the devices from October, Pharmacy Voice says

Teachers will need training how to use inhalers, pharmacists have warned, for when schools will be able to store the devices from October.

The Department of Health (DH) announced last week (August 7) that the "overwhelmingly positive" responses to its consultation meant schools would be able to buy small quantities of spare salbutamol inhalers and spacers from a pharmaceutical supplier for emergency use from October 1.

Pharmacy Voice told C+D on Monday (August 11) that the DH should be wary of assuming that using spacers would overcome a lack of knowledge among some teachers about how to administer an inhaler correctly. The representative body previously called for the DH to promote community pharmacy to schools as a source of advice on the devices, in its consultation response in June.

Evidence about the "general understanding of inhaler technique" meant the DH should not assume teachers had "little to learn" about using the devices properly, Pharmacy Voice added. 

Training about using inhalers was among the "wide range" of practical issues the DH identified in its joint consultation with the MRHA, which ran from May 7 to 30. The organisations received over 4,000 responses from parents, asthma sufferers and health professionals, including pharmacists. 

One pharmacist who responded to the consultation said it was not easy to use an inhaler and training would be necessary. "The use of spacers does not replace initial training on technique and regular monitoring to gain maximum benefit from using a salbutamol inhaler," they said.

Membership group the Primary and Community Care Pharmacy Network highlighted that, for the scheme to be implemented safely, there would be costs associated with health professionals providing appropriate training, checking the devices and disposing of waste inhalers.

Some respondents stressed that schools should do "as much as possible" to ensure parents recognised that the school's inhaler was only for use in emergencies. A number felt that the DH's estimated cost of £10 for an inhaler was too high, but none felt the cost would prevent schools from purchasing a device.  

Under the amended Human Medicines Regulations 2012, schools will be able to occasionally buy inhalers and spacers on a non-profit basis if the head teacher supplies a signed request. The DH had already created draft guidance for schools which it hoped covered the "major implementation issues" raised in the consultation, it said.

Will you be talking to your local schools about the changes to inhaler rules?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Peter Marks, Superintendent Pharmacist

Let's stop being so negative and look at this as an opportunity to demonstrate what community pharmacists can do to help our patients.

Peter Marks
Chairman of Community Pharmacy Greater Manchester

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""Let's stop being so negative and look at this as an opportunity to demonstrate what community pharmacists can do to help our patients.""

Mr. Marks,
Have we come to this now? That we have to grab whatever is thrown at us, without thinking how we are going to do it without disruption to other activities and without a monetary loss.
Could you please tell us what is our role in this whole exercise? To train the teachers, parents or anyone else? Or to spread the news about this whole issue? or something else that people at the top end, like yourself, who just make comments or issue statements without giving proper guidance as to who and what needs to be done. Lets stop talking in the air and think practicality.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Cant see it as a problem for us to do and the teachers will get (another) day off for it so evryones a winner ... hang on...

Chris ., Community pharmacist

We may struggle to find a day to do the training as they are generally striking, if not on holiday...

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Just get the CPPE to do the training session. They get paid anyway.

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