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Two thirds of asthma patients ‘still not receiving basic care’, warns charity

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Two thirds of patients are still not receiving the basic care they need to manage their asthma, with wide variations in the level of care reported between areas, a charity has claimed.

Survey results, published today by Asthma UK, suggest that seven out of 10 asthma patients admitted to hospital are not given a follow-up appointment with a GP or nurse, which the charity said was an “essential step” in preventing readmission.

“It is worrying that basic care is not being delivered on a consistent basis”

Andy Whittamore

Of the 4,650 people who responded to the Annual Asthma Survey from across the UK, 42% were given an asthma action plan in 2016 – up from 36% last year and 24% in 2013.

While the charity said the positive trend was welcome, the large numbers still lacking a written action plan was “concerning”, as not having one made patients four times more likely to be admitted with an asthma attack.

Northern Ireland was the highest performing part of the UK for the provision of basic asthma care, with 48% of respondents saying they had received adequate care.

In comparison, only 28% of people with asthma in London said they received basic asthma care – the lowest in the UK.

Dr Andy Whittamore, a GP and Asthma UK’s clinical lead, said: “Good asthma care means having a thorough asthma review, being on the right medication, knowing how to use your inhaler correctly and having a written asthma action plan.

“It is worrying that basic care is not being delivered on a consistent basis, because every person with asthma should be receiving this care,” he said.

Asthma UK

Kay Boycott

Kay Boycott

Kay Boycott, the charity’s chief executive, said it was “hugely disappointing” that the survey indicated little had changed since the “damning” 2014 National Review of Asthma Deaths concluded that two out of three asthma deaths were preventable with good basic care.

“It is clear that expecting old ways to tackle long-standing problems won’t work,” she said. “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.”

She added: “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.”

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