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Asthma sufferers face discrimination


Thousands of severe asthma sufferers face discrimination because of a lack of understanding about the seriousness of their symptoms, a leading asthma charity has said.

Some 250,000 people - 20% of the nation’s asthma sufferers - live with the most serious symptoms of the condition such as extreme breathing difficulties, wheezing and tightness in the chest, leaving them unable to work or even carry out day-to-day tasks.

However, despite acute asthma sufferers staking their claim as some of the heaviest users of the NHS, many non-sufferers continue to play down the seriousness of the condition, a report by Asthma UK and the Severe Asthma National Network revealed.

The findings have prompted the organisations to call for wider understanding about the condition, which affects more than five million people in the UK and claims 1,200 lives every year.

Calls have also been made to grant severe asthma sufferers better access to the state benefits system.

The report said the statistics should reveal that, despite being a well known and often manageable condition, severe asthma still poses substantial life hurdles for sufferers.

“People with severe asthma are the heaviest users of health services, and around 80% of spending on treating those with asthma is spent on the 20% with the severest symptoms,” the report said.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Martin Gray

    Why do severe asthma sufferers feel they are discriminated? Do they feel they are not receiving the level of treatment and care they should?

    The only reason I understand for the public in general to have any reason for discrimination is if those sufferers of asthma and COPD continue to live lifestyles that directly contribute to their condition, predominatly smoking. As a smoker with mild COPD I accept responsibility for my actions and do not expect the NHS to pay for any treatment related to that condition; I would stop smoking before doing so as that is only right.

    The cost of treatment would be a lot less if the pharmaceutical companies reduced the cost of their various devices, some of which cost well over £50 each.

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  • I have a family member with "controlled" asthma. She finds it difficult to run for a bus (for example). She has never smoked and is active, walking to and from work each day (approx 30 mins each way) in preference to taking transport. She works full time but suffers, frequently, from chest infections, for which she is prescribed antibiotics. She has to use inhalers every day and, at times, has to boost these with stronger medication. She is not to blame for her situation.
    She takes her medication regularly, as prescribed. However, I can see that the cost of taking regular medication might deter some asthmatics from using their inhalers correctly which might lead to complications.
    Why is there not a reduced prescription fee for those who need regular medication? I know they can get a prepayment certificate but for that to be cost-effective you have to need a minimum of 4 prescriptions in 3 months and you have to have the money available to pay up front.

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