A new scheme providing state schools in Wandsworth and Merton with emergency asthma kits is being rolled out by St George's Hospital NHS Trust.

Every primary and secondary school will receive the kits, which is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in London.

The scheme was created to ensure all state schools have an asthma kit available in line with the Department of Health guidelines and as part of a drive to improve asthma awareness and education.

Asthma affects approximately 1 in 11 children. Acute asthma attacks are one of the most common reasons that children have to attend, or are admitted to, hospital – many of which start or occur while a child is at school.

Whilst families are advised to provide schools with an asthma management plan and suitable inhalers and spacers, this may not always be available.

Dr Richard Chavasse, Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine at St George’s and Project Lead, said: “We hope that through this scheme, schools will be better placed to give prompt help to children at school which may prevent a more serious asthma attack.

"This may reduce the number of children needing to attend hospital as an emergency. Secondly, by using this scheme to raise awareness of asthma, its symptoms and treatments in schools there will be additional benefits for the many children with asthma, reducing its impact on their education and wellbeing.”

Wandsworth Times:

The emergency asthma bag contains an inhaler, disposable spacers and an illustrated instruction card. There is also documentation for schools to keep updated.

The bags have been funded by Wandsworth CCG, designed by Dr Chavasse and assembled through St George’s Pharmacy.

Over the next few months, every state primary and secondary school in Wandsworth and Merton will receive a bag and training.

The emergency inhaler will be used in conjunction with the individual child’s asthma plan, if their own inhaler cannot be used, with consent from the parents.

Dr Chavasse is urging children with asthma and their families to learn more about the condition to enable them to manage it more effectively by knowing the signals.

Such education includes using an asthma plan emphasising how, why and when their asthma medications should be taken and how to recognise and respond to an asthma attack, including when emergency care is required.

Dr Chavasse added: “These emergency asthma bags are designed to include everything that would be needed if a child has an asthma attack at school. There is a simple instruction guide that comes with the bag. We hope to educate at the same time, to enable children, teachers and parents to be more involved and understanding of asthma.”