GUIDELINES around tracking the use of asthma inhalers will be updated following the death of a ten-year-old boy in Southend, the NHS has said.

William Gray, from Southend, died in May 2021 after suffering a cardiac arrest following a severe asthma attack. An inquest found there were “multiple failures to escalate and treat” the boy’s “poorly controlled asthma”.

He had previously suffered a nearly fatal asthma attack in October 2020.

Sonia Hayes, coroner, concluded that “neglect by healthcare professionals” had played a factor in his death.

The inquest heard William’s family had an “absence of contact for four months” during which they pushed NHS services to improve his medication, but no action was taken.

Action is now being taken to ensure that “early reviews” around prescriptions and the administration of medication take place for children and young people, according to the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board.

Ms Hayes has since written to the Secretary of State for Health, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, the East of England Ambulance Service, Mid and South Essex NHS Trust and the asthma and allergy services at Essex Partnership University NHS Trust in a Prevention of Future Deaths report, highlighting issues which she believes need to be addressed.

A report from Mid and South Essex ICB has said “multiple partners” had shared their learning from the incident.

It now says guidelines around communication for the use in individuals of the blue salbutamol “reliever” inhalers, and the under use of the brown “preventer” corticosteroids inhalers is in progress.

It adds: “Communication specifically in relation to the overuse of salbutamol inhalers, and underuse of corticosteroids is in development in order to share learning widely across primary care partners, in order to trigger earlier asthma reviews for children and young people.”

Giles Thorpe,  executive chief nurse for the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board said: “Some key actions have been taken that will ensure that we are supporting children and young people with asthma so they do have early reviews appropriate to prescription and administration of medication to avoid the necessities of having to be transferred to secondary care setting via ambulance.”