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PCRS publishes new guide to poorly controlled and severe asthma

PCRS has published a new pragmatic guide to help clinicians identify the triggers for referral for specialist care for people with poorly controlled and severe asthma.

It follows findings in a new Asthma UK report that four in five people in England at risk of asthma attacks are failing to get lifesaving care.

Asthma UK says tens of thousands of people who have the severest form of asthma are ‘in limbo’ in primary care instead of being referred to specialists for diagnosis and treatment.

These patients are caught up in a cycle of life-threatening asthma attacks and are forced to take treatments with toxic side effects.

Asthma UK is calling for healthcare professionals to refer patients with suspected severe asthma to specialist care and for the NHS to increase access to life-changing treatments

The guide explains when clinicians should refer asthma patients for specialist review. It examines the relevant guidelines, explains how clinicians can determine when their asthma patients need specialist referral and how to deal with the patient who does not come to the clinic.  It also sets how to identify rescue SABA overuse as an indicator of poor control and how to educate patients to monitor their symptoms and recognise poor control.  It concludes with clear, pragmatic guidance on how to manage these patients.

The guide has been developed by an expert group led by Steve Holmes, a GP based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset and including: Binita Kane, Manchester University Foundation Trust, Manchester; Angela Pugh and Alison Whittaker, University Hospital of Llandough Cardiff & Vale University Health Board; Ruth McArthur, Macintosh Practice, East Kilbride, Glasgow; and Will Carroll, University Hospital of the North Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent.

Steve says: “In primary care we manage many people very well with asthma - however there are a few people with asthma who are not well controlled despite higher levels of treatment, have severe exacerbations or just don’t quite fit the picture.

“This pragmatic guidance is designed to help clinicians know who should be referred in for specialist asthma services where comprehensive assessment and support can be provided. A guide that is valuable to clinicians and commissioners alike.”

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