Training in asthma awareness will be offered to 500 school nurses across the North West of England following the deaths of three children from the condition over the past 12 months.
The training is joint initiative between Asthma UK, NHS North West and Respiratory Education UK.
It is hoped it will reduce the small, but often preventable, number of deaths in schools from the chronic respiratory condition.
Since January 2012 at least three children in the North West region have died due to asthma.
Two died in February – Rylan Cosgrove, age nine, from Millom in Cumbria and Joshua Platt, also age nine, from Oldham. Chloe Passmore, of Barley Cop Lane in Lancaster, was 12 years old when she died in March.
June Roberts, a nurse consultant at Salford Royal Foundation Trust and a member of the NHS North West respiratory clinical pathway team, said: “The recent tragic deaths of children with asthma in our region have highlighted how vital it is that children, their parents and schools understand how their asthma medication should be used and what to do in the event of an asthma attack.
She added: “Alongside the 500 nurses we plan to train, NHS North West is also collaborating with public health, local authorities and Asthma UK to work with schools across the North West to raise awareness and share resources that will help carers and teachers of children with asthma.”
The programme is due to be completed by the end of March at which point all 500 school nurses in the region should have received training.
Gill Hall, chief executive of Respiratory Education UK, said: “Only small numbers of children die from asthma each year – but many if not all of these deaths are thought to be preventable. Having a structured policy for the management of asthma in schools is essential.
“This training has been designed and will be facilitated by Respiratory Education UK and comprises a toolkit which includes study days, posters, emergency cards and interactive access and ongoing support,” she said.
According to Asthma UK research, two thirds of children with asthma aged 5 -18 years have experienced an attack while at school.