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Asthma sufferers ‘not receiving basic care’

by Valeria Fiore
24 January 2018

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Around 3.5 million UK residents with asthma are not receiving the basic care they need, according to a survey by Asthma UK.

The charity surveyed 7,611 patients with asthma in the UK and also found that 1 in 6 people (15%) with asthma lamented poor care.

The study Falling Through the Gaps: Why more people need basic asthma care, revealed that according to national guidelines, every asthma patient is supposed to have access to three elements of basic care:

  • asthma review every year;
  • training on the correct inhaler technique;
  • a written asthma action plan detailing how to manage asthma on a day-to-day basis.

The numbers

Approximately 5.4 million people in the UK suffer from asthma, including 1.1 million children.

According to the National Review of Asthma Deaths, three people die from asthma every day, but basic asthma care could prevent two thirds of these deaths.  

This year’s Asthma UK survey showed that 35% of respondents received the three elements of basic care. However, despite this constitutes a 1.5% improvement on last year figure, Asthma UK said there are still 3.5 million patients who are not receiving basic care.

The survey findings are in line with Asthma UK’s registered increase in number of calls from patients who said they were not satisfied with the advice they were given or could not access a GP appointment. The number of calls went up from 335 April-September 2016 to 350 April-September 2017.

Around 85% of asthma patients are managed exclusively in primary care, according to Asthma UK. However, the survey found that respondents were generally more pleased with specialist care (54.7%) and emergency care (52.2%) they received.

The survey also outlined that only 29.7% of patients who had received emergency care received an appropriate GP follow up appointment, a figure that according to the report sheds light on the need to improve communication between primary and secondary care.

The report said: ‘We are campaigning to improve this situation, and believe that data sharing between GPs and hospitals would improve discharge arrangements and increase the number of people with asthma receiving a follow-up appointment.’

Expert comments

Commenting on the report, RCGP Dr Imran Rafi said: ‘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.’

‘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.’

It comes as a BMA survey revealed that doctors believe that the delivery of care is worsening across the NHS. 

Patient perspective

Donna Green, 42, from Lurgan, County Armagh did not realise how important basic care was until she lost her 20-year-old son Tiernan. She is now campaigning for better patient care.

She said: ‘I didn’t realise how serious asthma was, and I found out in the most devastating way, when my boy died in my arms.’