Administration of Medicines and Medical Procedures in Schools and Other Educational Settings

Back to all Motions

2012 Local Government Service Group Conference
15 February 2012

Conference notes that discussions continue with governments’ across the UK, around responsibility for administration of medicines and medical procedures in educational settings. Current guidance requires schools to develop policies on administration of medicine and medical procedures to support with pupils with health conditions. Staff are expected to administer a range of treatment, from basic medicines to life saving drugs. In some cases, staff are asked to undertake medical procedures, including invasive procedures, intimate care or physical therapy.

Existing guidance is not strong enough on workforce needs and in particular on accredited training for staff. Unfortunately, the government in England is seeking to weaken current guidance, despite UNISON’s warning that this could have tragic consequences.

In 2009, a UK wide UNISON survey revealed that 70% of respondents were expected to administer medicines. However, over half of these staff had limited knowledge of their school’s medical administration policy and most had little training. Some staff were not comfortable or confident about their responsibilities, but felt emotionally blackmailed into doing the work by their employer, for which they received little or no additional pay.

The administration of medicines by staff remains a voluntary activity. Therefore, UNISON believes that employees who volunteer to assist with any form of medical procedure should not feel forced into doing so, and should be indemnified by their employer against any allegation of negligence.

UNISON believes there should be detailed national standards, with an accredited training framework that sets out the level of skill, qualification and knowledge necessary for assisting pupils with medical conditions. Also, all employees working in an educational setting should be made aware of common health conditions and how to respond in an emergency. In particular, staff should be familiar with symptoms in children, especially very young children who often will not be able to communicate that their condition is getting worse.

Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Continue to raise this issue with all governments and ensure that enforceable national standards are established, accompanied by comprehensive guidance covering workforce concerns and training needs;

2)Help regions and branches to negotiate joint workplace policies and to develop or review guidance, which will include accredited training, support and pay for additional or extended duties in relation to medical procedures in educational setting;

3) Inform members and potential members of their limits and responsibilities and their right to appropriate training and refresher training;

4)Seek to ensure that future Government guidance in all UK countries clearly sets out the responsibilities of employers, including to provide adequate indemnity insurance cover, health and safety procedures and record keeping systems;

5)Work with voluntary organisations such as Asthma UK, Diabetes UK, Young Epilepsy and the Health Conditions in Schools’ Alliance to demand properly-funded and robust accredited training for those staff who administer medicines and medical procedures.