Supporting Students in College with Medical Conditions Policy

This policy follows the most recent guidance issued by the DfE in December 2015.

Policy Aims
  • all staff understand that medical conditions should not be a barrier to learning
  • students at college with medical conditions should be properly supported so that they have full access to education, including college trips and physical education
  • the college ensures staff understand their duty of care to students and their expected actions in the event of an emergency.

Parents/carers have the prime responsibility for their student’s health and should provide college with information about all medical condition. Parents/carers, and the student if appropriate, should obtain details from their General Practitioner (GP) or other specialist, if needed. Parents/carers should provide the college staff with full information about their student’s medical needs, including details on medicines their student needs.

Policy Guidelines

Staff will ensure students with medical conditions are not excluded from full participation in college life and that parents/carers feel secure in the care their student receives at college.

Where possible, students will be supported and encouraged to take control of their health and proactively manage their condition. All management of health conditions is undertaken with the full understanding of our duty of care to students, including in the event of an emergency.

Where students and/or staff are known to have severe/life threatening allergies, staff should enact suitable measures to manage that risk as far as possible. All staff and students are expected to comply with any such arrangements as with all other safeguarding measures.

Students are informed and reminded of this policy through the curriculum, Student Council meetings, Student Handbook and the website. Parents/carers are notified of policy as part of the induction programme and the policy is available on our website. Staff receive regular training and updates related to supporting students with medical conditions.

Support for students with medical needs

Staff administering medication will act in the student’s best interest to support the student and promote the safest and most effective delivery of the medication required. Consents, risk assessments (where necessary), support plans and safeguarding will be adhered to in all instances.

Prescribed medicines

Prescribed medicines should only be brought to college when essential; that is, where it would be detrimental to a student’s health if the medicine were not administered during the college day. Medicines should always be provided in the original container as dispensed by a pharmacist and include the name of the pupil, prescriber’s instructions for administration, dosage and storage.

The college cannot accept medicines that have been taken out of the container as originally dispensed nor make changes to dosages on parental instructions.

It is helpful, where clinically appropriate, if medicines are prescribed in dose frequencies which enable it to be taken outside of college hours. Parents/carers are requested to ask the prescriber about this. It is to be noted that medicines that need to be taken three times a day could be taken in the morning, after college hours and at night.

Where the teaching staff agrees to administer a prescribed medicine it must be in accordance with a written consent and agreement of planned care with parents/carers.

Staff should check that the medicine has been administered without adverse effect to the student in the past and that parents/carers have confirmed this is the case.

Non-prescription medicines

Staff should never give a non-prescribed medicine to a student unless there is specific prior written permission from the parent or carer. Where the teaching staff agrees to administer a non-prescribed medicine it must be in accordance with a written consent and agreement with parents/carers. Medications may include:

  • paracetamol
  • ibuprofen
  • antihistamine.

 Staff should check that the medicine has been administered without adverse effect to the student in the past and that parents/carers have confirmed this is the case. Parents/carers should be contacted prior to administration to confirm previous administration details.

Where a non-prescribed medicine is administered to a student it should be recorded on the form in Appendix 1.

Students should never be given medicine containing aspirin unless prescribed by a doctor. Medication, e.g. for pain relief, should never be administered without first checking maximum dosages and when the previous dose was taken. Parents/carers should be informed.

Adrenaline Auto-Injector (AAI)

An Emergency Adrenaline Auto-Injector (AAI) will be kept if there are students attending who have been prescribed AAIs. This is in accordance with the Department of Health’s Guidance on the use of adrenaline autoinjectors in colleges (2017). Auto-injectors will be used in line with the manufacturer’s instructions, for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis where medical authorisation and written parental consent for the use of the spare AAI has been provided. The emergency AAI is a spare/back up device and not a replacement for a student’s own AAI(s).

A register of students who may be treated with the emergency AAI will be kept with the AAI, as well as signed ‘consent for medication’ forms and a record sheet for any administration carried out. All emergency care will be given in line with the student’s own Anaphylaxis Care Plan, including calling emergency services.

In the event of a possible severe allergic reaction in a student who does not meet these criteria, emergency services (999) should be called and advice sought from them as to whether administration of the emergency AAI is appropriate.

Short-term medical needs

Many students will need to take medicines during the day at some time during their time in college. This will usually be for a short period only, such as to finish a course of antibiotics or to apply a lotion.

However, such medicines should only be taken to college where it would be detrimental to a student’s health if it were not administered during the day. Again they must be supplied in their original container, with the pupil’s name, prescriber’s dosage administration and storage instructions and written consent from a parent or carer.

Long-term medical needs and emergency treatment

The Principal needs to know about any particular needs before a student is admitted, or when a student first develops a medical need. The correct medical information forms must be completed.

For students who attend hospital appointments on a regular basis, special arrangements may also be necessary. A medical risk assessment will be written with parents/carers and relevant health professionals. This will include;

  • Details of the medical need
  • Special requirement e.g. dietary needs, pre-activity precautions
  • Any side effect of the medicines
  • What constitutes an emergency
  • What action to be taken in an emergency
  • What not to do in the event of an emergency
  • Who to contact in an emergency

Students will be supported and encouraged to take responsibility to manage their own medicines.

For conditions such as asthma, diabetes and severe allergies students will be supported to carry their own medication off-site. There may be circumstances where it is not appropriate for a student of any age to self-manage. If required, staff will supervise student’s access to and administering of their medicine. 

Please note that students carrying medicines will be expected to store and use their medicines responsibly.

Where students have been prescribed controlled drugs these will be kept in safe custody in the relevant office. However, students can access them for self medication if it is agreed that this is appropriate.

Students with a short term need to finish a course of prescribed medicine may also bring their medicines to college. The student may either be responsible for them or ask the relevant staff to look after the medication. The parent/carer should determine which they feel is appropriate for their student.

Refusing medicines

If a student refuses to take medicine, staff will not force them to do so. In the case of Epipens, the individual student’s health care plan will be followed. Parents/carers should be informed of the refusal on the same day. If a refusal to take medicines results in an emergency, the college’s emergency procedures will be followed.

Record keeping

Parents/carers should tell the college about the medicines that their student needs to take and provide details of any changes to the prescription or the support required in writing. Medicines should always be provided in the original container as dispensed by a pharmacist and include the prescriber’s instructions. In all cases it is necessary to check that written details include:

  • name of student
  • name of medicine
  • dose
  • method of administration
  • time/frequency of administration
  • any side effects
  • any specific storage details
  • expiry date

 Parents/carers should complete a consent form and forward it to the college.

Where medication is administered in college on a regular basis a record will be kept using this form.

Trips and visits

Students with medical needs will be supported to participate in trips and visits. Arrangements for taking any necessary medicines will also need to be taken into consideration. Staff supervising excursions should always be made aware of any medical needs, and relevant emergency procedures by the parent/carer on the consent form. A copy of any health care plans should be include in the activity risk assessment and taken on visits in the event of the information being needed in an emergency.

Drug error

In the event that any medication is given in error, either to the wrong pupil or the wrong medication to the pupil, appropriate action must be taken as follows:

1. Report the incident immediately to a member of the management Team.

2. Report the incident to the pupil’s next of kin/guardian as appropriate.

3. Investigate the matter of how and why the incident occurred and complete a risk assessment to place appropriate controls to prevent any reoccurrences.

4. Ascertain risk with advice from Guys and St. Thomas Poison/ Toxbase unit as required

5. Discipline as necessary.

Storage and Disposal of Medicine

All medicines should be stored safely. Students should know where their medicines are at all times and be able to access them. Where relevant, they should know who holds the key to the storage facility. Medicines and devices such as asthma inhalers, blood glucose testing meters and adrenaline pens should always be readily available to students. This is particularly important to consider when outside of college premises, e.g. on college trips.

When no longer required, medicines should be returned to the parent or carer to arrange for safe disposal. Sharps boxes should always be used for the disposal of needles and other sharps. Written records must be kept of all medicines administered to students.

Staff training

Staff receive training on the college’s general emergency procedures, including medical emergencies. Training is given during the induction process and at regular intervals afterwards. This includes how to contact emergency services and what information to give, and who to contact within the college.

Information on action to take in a general medical emergency is displayed in prominent locations for staff. Additionally, action for staff to take in an emergency for the common serious conditions at the college is displayed in prominent locations.

Staff are aware of the most common serious medical conditions they are likely to encounter at the college and understand the importance of good management of health conditions. Staff who work with groups of students at a college should have received suitable training and know what to do in an emergency for the students in their care with medical conditions.

Staff will not give prescription medicines or undertake healthcare procedures without appropriate training (updated to reflect any individual healthcare plans). In some cases, written instructions from the parent/carer or on the medication container dispensed by the pharmacist will be considered sufficient; decisions will be made taking into consideration the training requirements as specified in the pupil’s individual healthcare plan if there is one.

Roles and responsibilities

Parents/carers will:

  • provide sufficient information about their student’s medical needs if treatment or special care is needed
  • ensure that information held by the college on their student’s medical needs is kept up to date
  • agree jointly with college staff on the college’s role in supporting their student’s medical needs
  • keep their student at home if the student is acutely unwell, in order to reduce the spread of infection. This is to protect other students with medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes, for whom illness can produce complications.

Trustees will;

  • be aware of the framework of responsibility and regularly review the arrangements in place at the college for the support of students with medical conditions
  • monitor support for students with medical conditions within the college, including staff training, via termly reports from the Principal.

The Principal will:

  • ensure that this policy and related documentation are implemented throughout the college. Monitor support for students with medical needs via regular reports and data monitoring. Ensure that sufficient staff have received suitable training and are competent to take on responsibility for students with medical conditions.
  • Ensure that suitable cover arrangements are in place to manage students’ medical needs in case of staff absence
  • ensure staff training on general emergency procedures and common emergencies relating to medical conditions is up to date
  • ensure that medication and equipment relating to students’ support needs is properly and securely stored while on college premises
  • delegate a staff member to check the expiry date of medicines kept at college and maintain the college medical conditions register
  • oversee the development and review of individual healthcare plans and risk assessments where necessary
  • liaise with the College Nurse regarding support for students with medical conditions.

All staff will:

  • ensure they understand and abide by this policy and related documentation
  • ensure that day to day college activities are inclusive and open to all wherever possible
  • ensure they are familiar with all general emergency procedures and common emergencies relating to medical conditions
  • know which students in their care have a medical condition and be familiar with the content of the student’s healthcare plan
  • maintain effective communication with parents/carers, including informing them if their student has been unwell at college
  • ensure students who carry their medication with them have it when they go off-site
  • be aware of students with medical conditions who may need extra social support
  • understand the common medical conditions and the impact it can have on students
  • ensure all students with medical conditions are not excluded unnecessarily from activities they wish to take part in
  • ensure students have the appropriate medication or food with them during any exercise and are allowed to take it when needed
  • not distribute prescription medication or undertake a medical procedure without appropriate training/updated to reflect the individual care plan
  • ensure students who have been unwell have the opportunity to catch up on missed college work
  • be aware that medical conditions can affect learning and provide extra support if required
  • liaise with parents/carers, the pupil’s healthcare professionals, special educational needs coordinator and welfare officers if a student or young person is falling behind with their work because of their condition
  • use opportunities such as PSHE and other areas of the curriculum to raise pupil awareness about medical conditions.

Students will:

  • treat other students with and without a medical condition equally
  • tell their parents/carers or nearest staff member when they are not feeling well
  • let a member of staff know if another pupil is feeling unwell
  • treat all medication with respect
  • know how to gain access to their medication in an emergency
  • learn how to take their own medication and to take it when they need it
  • alert a member of staff to an emergency situation.
Good practice

Staff should use their discretion and judge each case on its merits with reference to the student’s individual healthcare plan. It is not generally acceptable practice to:

  • prevent students from easily accessing their inhalers and medication and administering their medication when and where necessary
  • assume that every student with the same condition requires the same treatment
  • ignore the views of the student or their parents/carers, or ignore medical evidence or opinion (although this may be challenged)
  • send students with medical conditions home frequently or prevent them from staying for normal college activities, including lunch, unless this is specified in their individual healthcare plans
  • if the student becomes ill, send them to the college office or medical room unaccompanied or with someone unsuitable
  • penalise students for their attendance record if their absences are related to their medical condition, e.g. hospital appointments
  • prevent students from drinking, eating or taking toilet or other breaks whenever they need to in order to manage their medical condition effectively
  • require parents/carers, or otherwise make them feel obliged, to attend college to administer medication or provide medical support to their student, including with toileting issues. No parent/carer should have to give up working because the college is failing to support their student’s medical needs
  • prevent students from participating or create unnecessary barriers to students participating in any aspect of college life, including college trips, e.g. by requiring parents/carers to accompany the student.

The Principal and staff will always treat medical information confidentially. The Principal will agree with the student where appropriate, or otherwise the parent/carer, who else should have access to records and other information about a student. If information is withheld from staff, they should not generally be held responsible if they act incorrectly in giving medical assistance but otherwise in good faith.