• Saturday, May 25, 2024

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Call for better allergy safeguards in schools

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara said there is no legal requirement for schools to stock allergy medication and follow other safeguards

Representational image (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

North West Cambridgeshire member of parliament Shailesh Vara has raised the issue of children suffering from allergies and the need for better safeguards in schools.

During Prime Minister’s Questions last Wednesday, he cited the death of five-year-old Benedict Blythe, who attended a primary school in his constituency.

Though a coroner’s inquest report is awaited, Benedict died reportedly due to anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction.

Vara said, “On average two children in every class have food allergy, and allergic reactions take place more in schools than in any other setting outside the home”.

He said that other than optional guidance, there is no legal requirement for schools to stock allergy medication and follow other safeguards.

The MP wanted all schools to have an allergy policy and adrenaline pens, as well as people trained to use them.

Vara urged Sunak to meet Benedict’s parents, Helen and Pete, to discuss ways to provide a safe environment in schools for children suffering from allergies.

In response, the prime minister extended his sympathy to Benedict’s family. He said, “We fully understand the seriousness of severe allergies and believe that children with medical conditions should be properly supported to enjoy a full education and be safe at school.”

Sunak said he would set up a meeting between Vara and the health secretary “to discuss how we could further support pupils with serious allergies.”

Helen Blythe, who is the founder and director of the Benedict Blythe Foundation, which she set up in 2021 following Benedict’s death, said, “Over the last two years we have heard heartbreaking stories from families and teachers put in impossible positions because of a lack of legislation and funding for allergy medicines across the UK.”

She lamented there is still no commitment from the government to tackle this problem.

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