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 The DH had already created draft guidance for schools which it hoped covered the "major implementation issues" raised in the consultation, it said.