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a spirometry image 2January 25 2018

Asthma UK has warned that basic asthma care requirements are still not being met, and that care varies across the UK.

The charity’s annual survey, based on 7,611 responses, has reported that “two thirds of people with asthma are still not receiving the basic asthma care they need to stay out of hospital and get on with their lives.” In addition, “less than a third of people who had been admitted to hospital for their asthma received the appropriate follow up care.”

It notes there has been a slight upward trend on the provision of basic care over the past five years, with 35% of respondents saying they received an annual asthma reviews, an inhaler technique review and a written asthma action plan. However, the upward trend has been mainly due to asthma action plan provision (43.9% patients reported having one in 2017, compared to 24.0% in 2013), but with a decline in inhaler technique review.

In terms of the national variation in care provision, 48.2% of people with asthma in Northern Ireland reported receiving basic asthma care compared to 27.6% in London. There is also variation in care by age, with young adults receiving the lowest levels of care, while children and those aged 70-79 receive the highest levels of asthma care.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 55.6% of respondents said they used some form of technology in your healthcare, but only 8.3% used an asthma specific app
  • leading triggers were colds and flu (81.0%); dust (63%), air pollution (61.6%), pollen (61.6%), exercise (53.4%) cigarette smoke (53.4%).

Introducing the survey findings, Kay Boycott, Chief Executive, Asthma UK, said: “Whilst we know we face difficult times in the NHS, I am incredibly disappointed about the lack of progress shown in this report and angry at the inaction on behalf of people with asthma. What is particularly frustrating is that these tough circumstances have not seen a halt in innovation, access to care or new treatments developed. But people with asthma are still missing out on the basic provisions of care, even whilst we see progress being made in other conditions.

“The only measure that has seen consistent improvement is the provision of written asthma action plans, and that is due to the unrelenting efforts of Asthma UK to promote their life saving potential direct to people with asthma, policy makers and health care professionals.”

Commenting on behalf of the RCGP, Dr Imran Rafi said: “GPs would like to spend more time with their patients, especially those with chronic diseases like asthma, but with severe GP shortages across the UK and rising demand for our services, this is increasingly difficult.

“This report recognises that we need better information sharing between primary and secondary care to improve the outcomes of patients with asthma, and we agree that this process needs to be more seamless to ensure patients are receiving the best possible care throughout. It is also vitally important that patients understand their treatment and how to properly use equipment, such as inhalers, and we support any measures that encourage patients to feel more confident to manage their condition effectively and appropriately.”

Links:
Asthma UK survey        
RCGP response

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