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Better primary care access cuts asthma admissions

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Asthma patients who find it harder to access primary care are more likely to experience an emergency admission to hospital, according to new research.

The study by the University of Anglia looked at data for more than three million asthma patients across 7,806 GP practices in England – 95% of practices in the country.

They compared information on emergency admissions with access to primary care as set out in the GP Patient Survey – a sample of five million patients.

“Practices that provided better access to care had fewer emergency admissions for asthma”

Robert Fleetcroft

This included whether patients could get through on the phone, were able book appointments in advance and ease of getting an appointment with a practice nurse.

The research team also looked at factors including the size of practices and distance to the nearest hospital by road, as well as the make-up of the local population.

“We found 55,570 asthma-related emergency admissions and a strong link between poor access to care and higher amounts of admissions,” said lead researcher Dr Robert Fleetcroft.

“Practices that provided better access to care had fewer emergency admissions for asthma,” he said.

The study, which was published in the British Journal of General Practice, found that for every 10% improvement in access, there was a 32% reduction in emergency admissions.

Dr Roberts said this finding was key “because there is a significant risk of death for anyone making an emergency trip to hospital with asthma”.

He said this latest study added to a growing body of research showing a link between better access to primary care and lower rates of emergency admissions for a range of conditions including heart failure diabetes, stroke, cancer and epilepsy.

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