Death of asthmatic chef prompts calls for inhalers to be kept in kitchens

30 November 2021 by
Death of asthmatic chef prompts calls for inhalers to be kept in kitchens

The death of a young asthmatic chef has prompted a parliamentary debate on introducing a legal requirement for inhalers to be kept in commercial kitchens.

The family of chef Lauren Reid launched a petition calling for emergency stocks of salbutamol inhalers to be kept in kitchens, without the need for prescriptions, following her death in 2020. The request for the introduction of what has been dubbed ‘Lauren's law' has since been signed by more than 102,000 people.

A debate held in Westminster Hall this week heard that the 19-year-old did not have her inhaler on her person when she had suffered an attack at work. The attack caused a cardiac arrest and despite the efforts of her colleagues, she later died in hospital.

Introducing the debate Nick Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley, said: "Lauren's story shows that one attack without an inhaler at hand is enough to cause serious injury or even death."

He continued that adding an inhaler to first aid boxes in commercial kitchens "would be an easy way to make them a safe environment for people with asthma".

Alex Norris, Labour MP for Nottingham North, said an exception to rules around the storing prescribed medicines should be made for commercial kitchens, citing the example of schools where salbutamol inhalers can be kept for emergency use.

He said: "The reason this is a distinct setting that deserves special consideration from us today is that it is a potentially risky environment with triggers like flour, heat, fumes, dust, odours, a lack of decent ventilation.

"This is something that it is completely reasonable for us to be considering to see if we might do better, because everybody should be safe at work and have safety nets to help them."

Gillian Keegan, a minister in the Department of Health, said changes to the law to allow kitchens to keep inhalers for emergency staff use would be considered, but stressed that it would be a lengthy process.

She said regulators including the Commission on Human Medicines, and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, would have to approve the change. Before approval, evidence would need to show the benefits of making the exception and outline how risks would be managed.

Keegan told those gathered that the matter would be taken forward within the Department of Health and the commissioning of research would be considered.

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