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This article seeks to clarify the current guidance on administering medicines in early years settings. Paragraph 3.45 of the EYFS states that ‘medicines must not usually be administered unless they have been prescribed’. This means that it must not be usual practice for an early years provider to administer medicines without permission to do so and not that all medicines, both prescription and non-prescription have to have been prescribed for a child by a doctor, dentist, nurse of pharmacist.  For example, a provider cannot decide for themselves that a particular child needs to have a pain or fever reliever.

Both prescription and non-prescription medicines can only be administered where written permission has been obtained from the child’s parent or carer.  Providers should not expect parents to make unnecessary appointments with their child’s doctor to obtain prescriptions for medicines (other than for medicines containing aspirin) that can normally be obtained directly from a chemist.  When the EYFS is next amended the DfE will use the opportunity to clarify the section on medicines so that this is clear.

In addition the next EYFS will include a link to guidance published by Public Health England specifically for schools and childcare settings on infection control for various conditions (including conjunctivitis) which sets out when and for how long children need to be excluded, when treatment/medication is required and where to get further advice. This useful guidance can be found here.

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  1. Lisa on October 10, 2016
    About time it's ridiculous that have to get doctors to prescribe creams and teething stuff that can be bought from chemist and half the time doctors look at you stupid when you say nursery won't give it if it's not prescribed think all nurseries should have prescribed and non prescribed medicine forms so can keep track on what the children are having and what is being self prescribed from parents over the course ter and what is prescribed by doctor. It's ridiculous that children can be left at nursery in pain with their teeth and practitioners can't give pain relief unless a temp think if parent signs to say then it should be allowed to be given obviously if a parent is always signing for paracetamol then that is different and should be looked into don't think they should be allowed to sign for no more that 4 days in a row but should be able to sign for paracetamol if parent feels guild needs it especially for teething jesus if we have a headache or are in pain we take a paracetamol but where expected to leave our babies in pain with their teeth cause they don't have a temp ridiculous. Glad this is being addressed Rant over lol
  2. stephanie Hepworth on October 10, 2016
    I totally agree to this parents or carers should go to the doctors ect.. to get medication, because some things it could make a child worse than it oh ready is and it makes it easier for teachers, childminders and so on.
    • Archie on October 23, 2016
      Hi Stephanie, you seem to have misunderstood. This article says parents DON'T have to go to the doctors to get a prescription for a non-prescription medicine. So if the medicine can normally be obtained over the counter at the chemists, the parent doesn't need to go to the doctors to get a prescription just to satisfy the nursery your child goes to. That said, the article is poorly written, creating more confusion.
  3. CDN on October 13, 2016
    Will there be an opportunity for the sector to comment on DfE Clarification on medicines in early years settings through consultation?
  4. Louise Bower on October 13, 2016
    This updated information is not only informative but makes perfect sense too. Thank you.
  5. Archie on October 13, 2016
    This isn't really a clarification, it's a change to the guidance.
    • Foundation Years Team Author on October 14, 2016
      There is no change to when written permission is needed. It does not need to be obtained every time a child needs a particular medicine. Such permission can be given when the child attends the provision for the first time or at any other time.
  6. sharon lewis on October 18, 2016
    I agree with Archie, it's still not completely clear. I understand that it's saying that for instance Calpol does not have to be obtained via prescription but where it is still not clear is if blanket permission to give Calpol is enough to allow a provider to administer this if a child is running a high temperature/fever. If an attempt is still made to let the parent know and a signature is obtained when the parent collects the child is this sufficient?
    • Foundation Years Team Author on October 31, 2016
      Written permission is not needed every time a child needs a particular medicine. However, providers should be clear about when a particular medicine can be administered. Prior written permission could, for example, include the particular circumstances when specific medication can be administered and/or when the provider should let the parent/carer know prior to giving it and/or when to seek advice from the parent/carer or a medical professional.
  7. Erika Pollard on October 20, 2016
    Would the exception of aspirin also include products containing ibuprofen?
    • Foundation Years Team Author on October 31, 2016
      The only exception in the EYFS is for aspirin, which should only be given if prescribed by a doctor and prior written permission has been given by the parent/carer. However, where prior written permission has been given by the parent/carer for any other non-prescription medicine, providers should always check that the medicine is suitable for children, the age of the child and the dose given reflects the manufacturer’s and/or chemists instructions for the amount to administer and the time to allow between doses (including checking with parents/carers when medication has been given prior to coming to the childcare setting).
  8. Diana Buckell on December 14, 2016
    It would be good to also get clarification around the use of inhalers. I understand from First Aid courses that schools have a spare inhaler to administer in emergencies. This was recommended on numerous First Aid courses my staff have attended. However, our current guidance (rightly) stipulates that prescription medication must be named and specific to the child it's administered to.
  9. Neil on January 10, 2017
    Please could you cite the sources/authority that provided this info - would really help in discussions with nursery managers...
    • 4Children website admin on January 12, 2017
      Neil, this text was provided to us directly by the DfE who wanted to get the message out to the sector.
  10. Gabi on January 30, 2017
    Great to have this argument. The nursery my son goes to is refusing to administer saline drops without a prescription! Ridiculous to have to get an appointment with GP to ask for salty water to be prescribed, when you can get the drops/spray in any pharmacy, supermarket... over the counter. Am I right to argue this "rule" isn't right and as long as they have my written permission they should administer the drops? Thank you