Asthma at University

I'm currently very angry with my university and unsure what to do. I'd appreciate any advice or experiences others are able to share.

Before Christmas I had a severe attack at uni. I posted here about the poor first-aid treatment I received where I was left for 30 minutes and told all attacks got better in that time and didn't get any help until another member of staff over-rode the first-aider and called an ambulance. I didn't sound as bad by the time the ambulance came as they said I had a silent chest; the paramedics were angry I'd been left so long, and I was taken straight into resus in A&E.

My respiratory nurse wrote to my uni explaining how I should be treated in future and I raised a concern with health & safety to ensure neither myself or other asthmatics faced a similar experience.

I've had a letter from my uni today stating that the way I was treated was appropriate and it is the way they will continue to treat me and other asthmatics who have attacks at uni. They have ignored the advice from my respiratory nurse (which is the same as the Asthma UK advice card). I'm feeling quite scared, because if I were to have another attack in uni, they won't follow recommended advice and this could put me in danger.

I'm not sure what to do now - obviously it's not good not feeling safe at uni, but I'm too scared of the first-aider and his department to try and raise this with them and I don't want to be a burden on my respiratory nurse who has already done so much to help me. :'(

13 Replies

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  • HI

    i think you should have a meeting with head of uni and first aider and go through what you should

    be treated like when you have a attack and put your points over to them and still take letter

    with you and if they still wont budge then would take it up with a higher authority as you have

    hospital guide lines and asthma nurse guide lines .

    A lot of people still think all is needed is a blue puffa and will ease after a few puffs but

    when you have it bad and not having any relief from your reliever about 5 puffs eg or what you agree on to take then they should be on stand by to dial 999 .

    love Glyins xxxx

  • I would channel that anger into a meeting with the head of the uni, to ignore medical advice is in-excusable and reckless. Will put my thinking cap on and think who else you can use to challenge your uni's behaviour and practise.

  • How annoying Ratty!!!

    Is the letter worded in such a way that they are trying not admitt they were at fault? (I only ask because they may be afraid of you taking legal action and therefore do not want to be seen to admitt fault! In which case the best you can hope for is something like 'your comments have been taken on board and we have reviewed our procedures').

    Do you know if your previous experience was down to the first aider not correctly following the Uni's procedure?

    You could start off with a nice polite letter, thanking them for their letter and then asking if they could outline their reasons for disagreeing/disregarding with your respiratory nurse's and the Asthma UK advice. You could cc this letter to your respiratory nurse and include Asthma UK official advice.

    Another approach might be to discuss this with a university staff member that you get on well with and hopefully they might have some advice on how to proceed. Do you get on well with your personal tutor, hall manager or do you have a disability advisor?

    Hope this helps a bit and you get a more satisfactory answer.

    Bryony

  • That is dreadful, it makes my blood boil to read that they are ignoring all advice so you must be furious to have been the victim of such neglect.

    I agree with previous posts that the next step would be to try to have a meeting with the first aid department and invite someone from upper management even the vice chancellor (assuming your university is like mine and the chancellor is more of a figurehead rather than someone involved in the running of the university). You may want to talk to your student union before you arrange this meeting as they are there to support you and may be able to come to the meeting with you so that you feel like there is someone else on your side at the meeting.

    Other than that I wonder if contacting the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) would help as they regulate what is taught in the ""First Aid at Work"" qualification and there is clearly something amiss with the training that the first aider at your university have received.

    The first aid part of the HSE website can be found here

    hse.gov.uk/firstaid/index.htm

    there's also info on making a complaint under the Contact HSE heading

  • Do you have a Students Union? If you do, they should help you.

    Good luck with it

  • Hi Ratty

    I'm really sorry to hear that you have had such a poor experience with getting proper care from your Uni. Sadly, I know this is the case in other Unis. My friend works at one and got into trouble for calling 999 for a colleague having a heart attack as he didn't follow the University procedure!!

    I would agree with all the advice below but also get in touch with your student union as I am sure they will support you to ""educate"" the university.

    Sonja

  • Email: admin@usha.org.uk

    Phone: 01273 641882

    Address:

    208 Trevin Towers

    Gaudick Road

    Eastbourne

    BN20 7SP

    Unfortunately the people above's website is undergoing maintance , but they promote health and safety for students at University, would it be worth speaking to them.

    Another thought, wonder if it would be possible to find out who provides the first aid training for the University, and what they are teaching trainee first aiders? Because if the university are following what they have been taught, then the problem runs much deeper.

  • Hi everyone, thank you so much for your replies and support. I'm feeling a little more chilled out now!!

    I did contact the uni's Health & Safety people who are responsible for the first aiders. It is they who say they are following procedure and will do the same again (i.e. not what my resp. nurse has said should happen). They say these procedures are in line with the recommendations of 'First Aid at Work'.

    I can't find the First Aid at Work recommendations for dealing with an asthma attack, but I find it difficult to accept that they would say 'ignore a patient who is so poorly they can't speak and leave them for 30 minutes'... Surely their guidelines should be the same as Asthma UK's guidelines - if not, then there's an issue to raise if there isn't a consistent message about how to respond to an asthma attack.

    I've contacted my student union to see if they can help. I don't want a fight, I just need the reassurance that the guidelines of my resp. nurse will be followed and that I will be safe at uni.

  • Tonight Ratty I spoke to a friend who is a qualified first aider at work, and she said that she is not qualified to make life/death decisions and if faced with someone like you the only option would be to dial 999.

  • My college was the same, I had a big one at college and actually passed out, I came too after my tutor was poking me and saying I needed to take part in the film!! After, I got myself home as best I could, then collapsed at home, came to in hospital being taken to a ward...

    Since then, I actually did a tutorial with my group as to handle attacks and explained that not doing anything sooner actually put me in more danger

  • I work in a school and have done the First Aid at Work Course quite a few times now. We have always been told if no better after 3 mins of taking reliver then further help needed. We will and do ring 999 as needed, as it can take about 15mins to reach us at times.

    What the dept. needs to realise is that they are First Aiders NOT Drs. there aim is to try and prevent the worsening of a situation before further qualified help arrives.

    What will it take the death of a student to make em understand!!!!

  • I work in a school and have done the First Aid at Work Course quite a few times now. We have always been told if no better after 3 mins of taking reliver then further help needed. We will and do ring 999 as needed, as it can take about 15mins to reach us at times.

    What the dept. needs to realise is that they are First Aiders NOT Drs. there aim is to try and prevent the worsening of a situation before further qualified help arrives.

    What will it take the death of a student to make em understand!!!!

  • Thanks - the problem is the first-aider didn't dial 999 and this may not have happened had the other staff member not intervened - yet health and safety are saying this was fine.

    The students union have agreed to take this on for me if I want, so I'm just having a think about the best way forward.

    Thanks again everyone for your support, it's really helped me think about dealing with this proactively. :)

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