Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People is calling for urgent new guidance to address medicine and healthcare administration procedures in schools following research published today.
The three-part research includes a report by WithScotland, the University of Stirling-based organisation which supports child protection practice, policy and research.
It raises concerns about the administration of medicines and healthcare procedures in schools for children and young people with long term health conditions.
While the research found there is much good practice in schools and the experience of parents and carers is generally positive, there are also considerable variations in policy and practice across local authorities and a lack of knowledge and understanding of the health care needs of some school pupils.
The research, which comprised FOI requests to local authorities, focus groups with children and young people and nurses, a survey of parents and carers, and an online survey of 300 schools across Scotland, concludes there is a need for:
New guidance on the administration of medicines and healthcare procedures in schools, to reflect the significant changes made to legislation and policy over the last decade. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
More consistent use of guidance to raise awareness of the issue
Improved communication between professionals and with parents, children and young people
More consistency in preparing and reviewing individual Health Care plans – and involving children and young people in this
Comprehensive staff training within the context of there being no legal duty on staff in education to help administer medicines or care.
It also makes a number of recommendations, including the need to involve children and young people in developing good practice, to review staff training, and for schools to share information about common conditions like asthma, diabetes, anaphylaxis and epilepsy.
The Commissioner has now established a working group to take forward the recommendations in the research reports. This group will make formal recommendations to Scottish Government later in 2013.
Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: "Our research has revealed that education authorities are unclear about their legal duties to children with long term health conditions and there is a great deal of confusion from authority to authority. Practice is inconsistent and, in some cases, poor and there is confusion around policy and the law. The result of all of this is that some children with health conditions are losing out on their education.
"While the Government has committed to updating the guidance by 2014, to reflect current policy and legislation, this date is far too late. The guidance must be amended as soon as possible to reflect the law, so that children with health conditions get the education that is their right."
The WithScotland University of Stirling Report The Administration of Medicines and Health Care Procedures in Schools: The views of parents and carers was produced by Kelly Stone and Sarah Doyle.