Millions of UK asthma sufferers ‘not receiving basic levels of care’

Millions of asthma patients are not receiving basic levels of care to keep their condition in check, a charity has warned.

Two-thirds of sufferers are not being given fundamental care to manage their condition, Asthma UK said. This is about 3.6 million people across the UK.

Full provision of this basic care would “reduce the impact of asthma, reduce hospital admissions and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people”, according to a new report by the charity.

Basic care includes having an appropriate asthma review at least once a year – or more often for severe cases and children – being on the right medication and knowing how to use it, and having a written asthma action plan.

The annual asthma survey, based on responses from 4,650 patients from around the UK, found a variation in the proportion of people receiving basic care across the country, with some areas “lagging behind others”.

Patients in Northern Ireland appeared to get the best basic care, with 47.6% receiving all elements of recommended care.

The lowest proportion was in London, where just 27.5% of patients received this level of care.

The report’s authors said it was not just this basic care that was “failing people with asthma”. The report stated that seven out of 10 patients who required hospital care or out-of-hours treatment did not have a follow-up appointment.

The authors said: “Correct discharge arrangements after a hospital stay for asthma saves lives, and this is a particularly worrying finding.”

There are about 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK. In 2015, 1,468 people died from the condition – the highest number for more than a decade. The charity said two-thirds of asthma deaths were preventable with the right basic care.

“It is worrying that basic care is not being delivered on a consistent basis because every person with asthma should be receiving this care,” said the charity’s clinical lead, Dr Andy Whittamore.

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said: “With the 2014 national review of asthma deaths reporting two out of three asthma deaths are preventable with good basic care, it is hugely disappointing that the latest Asthma UK care survey shows little has changed since that damning report.

“It is clear that expecting old ways to tackle long-standing problems won’t work. We must take a bold new approach and take advantage of new asthma digital health solutions to transform the way asthma care is delivered and support self-management.

“Digital asthma action plans, smart inhalers and automated GP alerts are just some of the ways asthma care could be brought up to date and help reduce the risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks.”

The proportion of patients in each region who received all elements of basic asthma care, according to Asthma UK

East Midlands: 33.5%

East of England: 30.4%

London: 27.5%

North-east: 38.5%

North-west: 34.5%

Northern Ireland: 47.6%

Scotland: 41.1%

South-east: 33.2%

South-west: 34.2%

Wales: 32.2%

West Midlands: 32.2%

Yorkshire and the Humber: 28.1%

More Information: Asthma Attacks

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