Public ignorance puts children with asthma at risk

New data released by Asthma UK suggests that 88% of UK adults (which includes school staff) would not really know what to do if a child in their care suffered an asthma attack.

The recent inquest into the death of 11 year old Samuel Linton, from Stockport, who was left in a corridor at school for several hours after suffering an asthma attack, made this all too clear. The inquest found that school staff lacked vital training on how to recognise an asthma attack and what to do in an emergency situation. Separate survey data suggests that three quarters of teachers in England do not feel completely confident about what to do if a child in their class has an asthma attack - a seriously alarming statistic given then asthma affects over a million children in the UK.

Although asthma is believed by many to be a mild and harmless condition, a child is admitted to hospital as a result of the condition every 19 minutes in the UK and the equivalent of a classroom of children die from asthma every year.

Asthma UK want not only teachers but every member of the public to know the signs of worsening asthma and what steps to take if someone suffers an asthma attack. Not acting quickly enough can result in needless deaths. They also wan the NHS to take a zero tolerance approach to asthma deaths as they believe that a more proactive approach from health professionals might have resulted in at leat some of these children surviving.

As a first step Asthma UK offers a free Asthma Attack Card downloadable from their site. The wallet sized card carries life saving information on the simple steps to take and can be ordered by calling (in the UK) 0800 121 62 55 or emailing

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First Published in May 2010

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