Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Proper safeguards essential for the administration of medications in schools

#ulgc14 Delegates applauded action in Glasgow where pupil support assistants forced the council to withdraw proposals for all PSAs to administer medications to pupils with health needs and agreed a range of measures to campaign for enforceable national standards, backed up by comprehensive guidance and training.

Proposing the motion, Carol Ball, Scottish member of the Service Group Executive said that the administration of medicines and medical procedures continues to cause a great deal of concern for many of our members in schools and other educational settings.

“Often the responsibility for supporting these pupils is forced onto support staff, often without adequate safeguards.”

Glasgow’s Sylvia Haughney told Conference that she was one of the PSAs who went on strike after Glasgow City council wanted to incorporate the administration of medicines into all school support staffs’ contracts. The council called it low level but the range of situations the PSAs would be required to deal with was anything but, and ranged from epilepsy to diabetes.

Sylvia Haughey
“Our members were appalled and outraged,” said Sylvia “but management weren’t willing to listen. They used bully boy tactics, issuing us all with letters threatening us with 45 days notice.

“We balloted; we took action – 17 weeks of action. Management began to listen to the predominantly low paid, majority women, who stood together and lost pay to say enough is enough.

“We got a better deal for our members and won. Actions speak louder than word!” said Sylvia.

Carol added that UNISON has produced updated guidance on the administration of medicines, which is welcome, and has been involved in new statutory guidance in England, which although not perfect, is a step in the right direction. In Scotland UNISON is also on a review group updating guidance.

Carol said, “We must increase the pressure on employers and school leaders and work with them to implement the guidance in England and ensure that similar guidance is produced throughout the UK to address workforce concerns and training needs.

“We must continue to put pressure on all governments to ensure that funding is identified for the necessary training and appropriate pay of staff who choose to support children and young people with medical needs.”

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