Systems and Procedures for Managing Medicines

Introducing a Procedure

29. A clear procedure understood and accepted by staff, parents and pupils provides a sound basis for ensuring that children with medical needs receive proper care and support at school.  Procedures should, as far as possible, enable regular school attendance.  Formal systems and procedures, drawn up in partnership with parents and staff should back up the school's management systems.

30. A school’s procedure needs to be clear to all parents and pupils.  The school could include this in its prospectus, or in other information for parents.  The procedures might cover:

  • the circumstances in which the Head Teacher accepts responsibility, in principle, for school staff giving or supervising children taking prescribed medication during the school day
  • The Moray Council’s position in respect of non-prescription medication e.g. pain killers (analgesics) and short-term medication (less than seven calendar days)
  • the school’s policy on assisting pupils with long term or complex medical needs
  • the need for prior written agreement from parents or guardians for any medication, prescribed or non-prescription, to be given to a child (Form Med 1)
  • policy on pupils carrying and taking their medication themselves (Form Med 1)
  • staff training in dealing with medical needs (Form Med 5)
  • record keeping (Form Med 2)
  • storage and access to medication
  • the school’s emergency planning procedures (Form Med 6)

31. Parents should be encouraged to provide the school with full information about their child’s medical needs.  Staff noticing a deterioration in a pupil’s health over time should inform the Head Teacher who should let the parents know.

Short Term Medical Needs

32. Some pupils will need to take medication (or be given it) at school at some time in their school life. Often this will be for a short period only.  To allow pupils to do this will minimise the time they need to be off school.  Medication should only be taken to school when absolutely essential; prescribed, and agreed within an IPP.  (Form Med 3)

33. The administration of antibiotics in school is to be discouraged.  Children requiring antibiotics should either remain at home where the illness is acute, or where attending school, dosage arrangements should be worked out so as to allow the antibiotic to be taken before and after school.

34. It is expected that medication be prescribed in dose frequencies which enable it to be taken outside school hours wherever possible.  Parents should be encouraged to ask the prescribing doctor or dentist about this.

Non-Prescription Medication

35. Pupils sometimes ask for  pain killers (analgesics) at school, including aspirin and paracetamol.  School staff will not give non-prescribed medication to pupils.  They may not know whether the pupil has taken a previous dose, or whether the medication may react with other medication being taken..

Long Term Medical Needs

36. It is important for the school to have sufficient information about the medical condition of any pupil with long term medical needs.  If a pupil’s medical needs are inadequately supported this can have a significant impact on a pupil’s academic attainments and/or lead to emotional and behavioural problems.  The school therefore needs to know about any medical needs before a child starts school, or when a pupil develops a condition.  For pupils who attend hospital appointments on a regular basis, special arrangements may also be necessary.  It is often helpful for a school to draw up an individual pupil protocol (Form Med 3) for such pupils, involving the parents and relevant health professionals.  This can include:

  • details of a pupil’s condition
  • special requirements e.g. dietary needs, pre-activity precautions
  • medication and any side effects
  • what to do, and who to contact in an emergency
  • the role the school can play

37. (Form Med 3) provides an example of an IPP, which schools may wish to use or adapt.

38. No pupil under 16 should be given medication without his or her parent’s written consent.

39. Any member of staff giving medicine to a pupil should check:

  • the pupil’s name
  • written instructions provided by parents or doctor
  • prescribed dose
  • expiry date
  • signatures of parents and pupil (Form Med 1)

40. If in doubt about any of the procedures including any conflict between the wishes of the parents and the child, the member of staff should check with the parents or a health professional before taking further action.

41. Staff must complete and sign record cards each time they give medication to a pupil. (Form Med 2) should be used for this purpose.  It is recommended practice to have the dosage and administration witnessed by a second adult.

Self Management

42. It is good practice to allow pupils who can be trusted to do so to manage their own medication from a relatively early age and schools should encourage this. Where appropriate written medical confirmation is provided by the parent which indicates that pupils can take their medicine themselves.  Where supervision by staff is required, staff may undertake such duties on a voluntary basis.  The school policy should say whether pupils can carry and administer their own medication, bearing in mind also the safety of other pupils.  A parental consent form is provided in (Form Med 1 - Section 6iii).

Refusing Medication

43. If pupils refuse to take medication, school staff should not force them to do so.  The school should inform the child’s parents as a matter of urgency.  If necessary, the school should call the emergency services.  (Form Med 6)

Record Keeping

44. Parents are responsible for supplying information about medicines that their child needs to take at school, and for letting the school know of any changes to the prescription or the support needed.  The parent or doctor should provide written details including:

  • name of medication
  • dose
  • method of administration
  • time and frequency of administration
  • other treatment
  • any side effects

45. It can be helpful to give parents a form similar to (Form Med 1) to record the details of medication in a standard format.  The child’s GP may be willing to provide confirmation of the medication.

46. (Form Med 1) provides a sample confirmation note which schools may wish to give to parents to let them know that a member of staff will assist with medication.

47. Records of medicines given to pupils and of the staff involved should be kept.  Records offer protection to staff and proof that they have followed agreed procedures.  Some schools keep a log book for this.  (Form Med 2) provides the record sheet.

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