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Asthma Friendly Schools project shortlisted for the 2024 HSJ Partnership Awards

A joint project between South Yorkshire Children and Young People’s Alliance, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals and local schools, has been shortlisted for an award at the HSJ Partnership Awards.

The project, which is making local schools ‘asthma friendly’, was nominated for the Most Impactful Partnership in Preventative Healthcare award, which recognises outstanding dedication to improving healthcare and effective collaboration with partner organisations.

Introducing an Asthma Friendly Schools policy originates from NHS England’s Children and Young Peoples Transformation Programme, with the overall aim of improving health inequalities and improving outcomes. This initiative aims to enrol and support local schools to improve the care of pupils with asthma and raise awareness of the common long-term medical condition by delivering training, resources, and support. The programme will help to implement new levels of preventative care and support for children with asthma and, ultimately, reduce the number of hospital admissions the condition is responsible for.

Last year, South Yorkshire witnessed 433 paediatric hospital admissions directly linked to asthma. Health colleagues involved in this project, recognised the need to work with education sector colleagues on preventative measures to provide support for children in the locations where they are most likely to experience an asthma attack.

Typically, there is an increase in hospital admissions for asthma, during the two weeks following the start of the school year. This is due to several factors such as schools having been closed for several weeks and gathering dust particles, freshly cut grass on school grounds and an increased amount of pollen. Taking up PE classes again and being out of breath, or being anxious/nervous about returning to school, can also have a detrimental effect to young asthma sufferers.

To achieve the Asthma Accreditation, schools need to ensure that 80% of their workforce (including clerical colleagues and those in non-teaching roles) complete the awareness training. They also need to have asthma policy and keep an up-to-date asthma log which logs when students will need to replace their inhalers and monitor when they needed to use their inhaler at school. Logging this information will help to ensure parents can pick up when an asthma review is needed for their child.

Astrea Academy Woodfields in Doncaster was the first school in South Yorkshire to achieve the Asthma Friendly certification. Since then, two additional schools (Sandringham Primary School in Doncaster and Wath Central Primary School in Rotherham) have also been certified and several others have been in touch to start their training to be awarded with the Asthma Friendly School badge.

David Scales, Headteacher at Astrea Academy, said: “One of the things we want to do here at Astrea Academy Woodfields is to make children feel safe and welcome. To do that, they need to feel well and able to engage with education in the same way as all the scholars in our school and as someone with a history of asthma as well, I know that can sometimes be difficult.

“The Asthma Friendly Accreditation process was really easy thanks to the support of our local NHS colleagues and the training was really informative and supported all of our staff to be in the best position to deliver the new policies that we have put in place. It’s going to make a big difference for these young people who will now feel safer, which we hope will enable them to succeed and thrive during their time in school.”

HSJ editor Alastair McLellan, said: “It always gives me great pleasure to congratulate our finalists at this stage of the judging process and this year is no exception. The calibre of entries left our panel of expert judges with some tough decisions to deliberate over. However, it’s always important to remember that the HSJ Partnership Awards are not just a celebration of success stories, but also a platform to shape the future collaboration within the NHS.

“We can’t wait to welcome our finalists to the awards ceremony in March and to recognise and applaud such impressive achievements across the sector.

The selected winners will be announced during the awards ceremony at Evolution London on 21 March 2024.

Dr Sonal Kansra on behalf of the CYP alliance team, said: “We’re delighted to have been shortlisted for a HSJ Partnership award. It feels less about the recognition for all the hard work and planning that was needed to get this initiative off the ground and more about how we all worked in partnership with the common aim of improving lives for children and young people with asthma. Whatever the result on the night, we already feel like winners for getting this far and to have this opportunity to showcase everything we’ve learnt through implementing this project.”

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