Administration of Medicines in Schools

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2014 Local Government Service Group Conference
13 February 2014

Conference notes that discussions continue with governments across the UK on responsibility for administration of medicines and medical procedures in educational settings. Employees whose contract includes the administration of medicine and/or health care tasks should receive specific, regular training and be indemnified by their employer against any allegation of negligence, which enables them to feel confident and competent . Staff whose contract does not specify these duties cannot be required to do them and should not be bullied into carrying them out.

Conference is pleased that the recently published NJC school support staff role profiles, do not specifically include duties relating to supporting pupils with health needs, allowing them to be included through proper negotiation and agreement. The profile documentation is clear that where such a duty is agreed between employers and unions, it should be set out in the job description, allowing it to be accounted for in the evaluation of the role and in remuneration as appropriate.

Conference congratulates UNISON’s pupil support assistants in Glasgow schools, who took industrial action spread over a period of 17 weeks against their employer’s proposal that all pupil support assistants should carry out the full range of administration of medication and healthcare tasks for no additional money. Members’ action forced revised proposals that give staff the choice over whether or not to take on this additional level of responsibility rather than be forced into doing it, along with additional payment where additional responsibility is taken on.

Conference welcomes the news that the Department for Education in England has listened to concerns from UNISON and other campaigners; proposing an amendment to the Children and Families bill that introduces statutory guidance on the administration of medicine from September 2014. UNISON has long campaigned for such guidance to address current inconsistencies in the provision of health support, which leaves both pupils and the support staff that provide these services vulnerable.

In the meantime, UNISON members working in UK schools are still too often forced into difficult positions where they want the best for their pupils, but are asked to administer medicines with little or no training.

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)Monitor the new statutory guidance that will apply to schools in England to ensure that it reflects the best practice set out in UNISON’s joint statement with the Royal College of Nursing.

3)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 settings.

4)Work with voluntary organisations and the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance to demand properly funded and robust accredited training for those staff who administer medicines and medical procedures.