Lauren Reid died in February last year after a serious asthma attack in her Gin71 Glasgow restaurant. Her mum Elaine has been campaigning for salbutamol inhalers to be kept in commercial kitchens
Image: Daily Record)
Asthma inhalers are set to be included in at risk workplace first aid kits next year following the tragic death of a 19 year old chef.
Lauren Reid died in February last year after a serious asthma attack in her Gin71 Glasgow restaurant.
She had forgotten to bring her inhaler to work and suffered brain damage after a cardiac arrest. Days later Mum Elaine Cunningham, 46, made the heartbreaking decision to switch off her life support.
Elaine has been campaigning ever since for a Lauren’s Law which would legally require salbutamol inhalers now only available on prescription to be kept in commercial kitchens.
She said: “If an inhaler had been in the first aid kit she would be alive today.
“I do my grieving indoors and this campaign has kept me going. Now it looks like there’s going to be a law in my daughter’s name and that’s humbling.”
Care minister Gillian Keegan told MPs there were a number of regulatory hoops to jump through first.
She added: “We would need to ensure that the benefits of such a change would outweigh any risks.”
Yet an amendment to the law in 2014 means that schools already have emergency inhalers on hand for asthmatic students.
But to make them available in workplaces needs evidence to satisfy the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the independent Commission on Human Medicines.
And then there would have to be a public consultation before any change in the law could be made.
Brian Mcelderry of chef’s union Unichef predicted that the necessary safeguards could be in place by next year.
He said: “We are heartened by the way this is going. We are aware we must ticks some boxes but we’re knocking them off one by one.”
And shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting added: “I hope the Government look at this quickly. It’s a common sense thing to do.
“If we can save other lives in the future it will provide comfort to Lauren’s family and be a wonderful campaigning legacy.”
One in 11 people now suffer from asthma, and for 200,000 who have the disease seriously it can be life threatening.
Restaurant kitchens are particularly risky because powder, flour, fumes, heat and humidity can all trigger attacks.
But grain and poultry dusts are a danger to asthmatic farm workers as is bleach to hairdressers, wood dust in timber mills and chlorine in indoor swimming pools.
Asthma UK boss Joseph Carter said: “Asthma is not taken seriously enough and every day in the UK three families like Lauren’s go through the agony of losing a loved one.
“It is essential that everyone with asthma has access to the medication they need in an emergency.”
Tory MP Nick Fletcher added: “Salbutamol inhalers have been licensed for more than two decades.
“Side effects are typically mild and do not last long.”
Independent MP Margaret Ferrier added: “Making sure salbutamol inhalers are available in high-risk environments is an easy thing to do.”
The UK has the worst death rate from asthma in Europe in those aged between 10 to 24.