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Sensational headlines prompt wake up call for asthma improvement

Millennials are getting the worst asthma care in the UK, reported the news media about Asthma UK’s annual survey for 2018.

The report, The Reality of Asthma Care in the UK, said that two thirds of patients aged 18-29 were not getting basic asthma care, higher than any other age group; were more likely to have uncontrolled asthma and were  twice as likely to need emergency care compared to those over 60 years old.

However the survey of more than 10,000 people with asthma also reported some ‘modest’ improvements in care:

  • Basic care levels were met for 40% of respondents, an increase of 5% from 2017 (35%)
  • Basic care levels have doubled since 2013 (20% to 40%).
  • Annual review attendance increased by 3% with an overall increase of 6% from 2013.
  • People who said they had had their inhaler technique checked increased 3% since 2013.
  • Action plan use was up by 4% from 2017 and has doubled since 2013 (24% to 48%).

PCRS Executive Chair, Dr Noel Baxter, says: “This snapshot of asthma care is unacceptable.  However our membership would recognise that the general practice workforce and other practitioners lack the training, confidence, resources and time to treat and manage asthma properly. Many are confused by conflicting guidelines from NICE and BTS/SIGN. Additionally most patients underestimate the seriousness of their condition and often do not recognise the value of coming in for an annual review.”

Duncan Keeley, PCRS Policy Lead, says: “The 2018 survey shows that asthma is still a big problem with many avoidable ED attendances, hospital admissions and deaths.  We need to rekindle a whole team responsibility for asthma in primary care that vitally includes GPs and well trained nurses and pharmacists who also play a key role in asthma care. Teams need to work to ensure that patients are given consistent messages, and that everything is done to maximise continuity of care within the limits of what is possible.”

What you can do:
Use this report to galvanise colleagues into using these resources to improve asthma care:

  • Asthma Right Care:  This initiative uses a social movement approach to change people’s minds about the way they manage their asthma with the aim of reducing over-reliance on short-acting beta2 agonists (SABAs). Pharmacist and PCRS member, Darush Attar, says: “Asthma Right Care is about positive energy, empowerment, upskilling, and hope, at the same time creating a level of discomfort that the status quo can’t continue.”
  • Pragmatic PCRS guidance: This PCRS consensus statement on the key aspects of the diagnosis, management and monitoring of asthma has been produced to provide clarity for primary care clinicians faced with conflicting national guidelines.
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