There are nearly 6 million people in the UK with Asthma. Sadly, over 1,500 people die of Asthma every year in the UK. Since late 2014, schools have been allowed to hold spare emergency reliever inhalers.

With the prevalence of Asthma in children increasing, in late 2014 schools have been allowed to hold spare emergency reliever inhalers.

Asthma UK, who campaigned for the change, found that 86% of children have been without their own inhaler because it was lost, forgotten, broken or had run out.

Schools can buy inhalers and spacers in small quantities and on an occasional basis from a pharmaceutical supplier, such as a local pharmacy, without a prescription. Pharmacies are not required to provide inhalers or spacers free of charge to schools, it is likely there will be a small charge. 

The schools should provide a request signed by the principal or head teacher (ideally on appropriately headed paper) stating:

  • the name of the school for which the product is required;
  • the purpose for which that product is required, and
  • the total quantity required.

Schools may wish to discuss with their community pharmacist the different plastic spacers available and what is most appropriate for the age-group in the school. Community pharmacists can also provide advice on the use of the inhaler.

For schools in England, the Department of Health issued guidance, setting out how schools should safely keep and administer spare emergency inhalers. In Wales, the Welsh Government issued guidance in October 2014 setting out how schools should safely keep and administer spare emergency inhalers. This information is also available in Welsh. In Northern Irelandguidance has been issued to all schools, allowing them to hold a supply of inhalers for emergency use. In Scotland, Asthma UK Scotland has been in contact with the Scottish Government on reviewing its guidance for schools on managing medicines.  

Acknowledgement Asthma UK


Richard Craddock

Richard is the Managing Director at SkillBase First Aid

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