This site is intended for health professionals only

Asthma UK slams inadequate services for ethnic communities

7 November 2008

Share this article

Asthma UK is calling on the NHS to take crucial steps to safeguard the health of black and minority ethnic (BME) groups who are being let down by their current services.

Speaking Up, a new report by Asthma UK, reveals that many people from minority ethnic backgrounds in England are regularly confronted with poor and inaccessible services from the NHS. Without adequate support and information, they struggle to control their asthma and are forced to live with unnecessary symptoms that can escalate into life-threatening
asthma attacks and emergency hospital admissions.

In England people from BME communities are among the most severely affected by their asthma, with research showing that compared with the white population, South Asian people are three times more likely to require an emergency hospital admission for their asthma and black people are twice as likely.

Of the people from BME communities interviewed for this report, more than two thirds did not have their asthma symptoms under control with almost half saying that their asthma had limited their social lives and a third saying that their asthma had held them back at work.

Around one in 20 either had no doctor, or didn’t know whether they were registered with a local surgery and one in nine found it difficult to reach someone who could treat their asthma through the NHS.

To combat this discrepancy, Asthma UK is highlighting the need for good practice in asthma service delivery to be more widespread and systematic. National standards are essential as a baseline for effective services, but it is equally important that commissioners ensure that local diversity is taken into account when planning asthma services. It is also vital to make use of more comprehensive ethnicity data recording to identify where the greatest inequalities lie.

An effective way for health professionals to improve outcomes for this group is through the use of written personal asthma action plans. People who do not have such a plan are four times more likely to require emergency hospital treatment than those who do, yet of the respondents to this survey, only around a third said that they had been given one.

Asthma UK