Charity demands action is needed to prevent needless asthma deaths

Asthma + Lung UK are calling on the government to stop preventable asthma deaths after it was found that over 12,000 people have died from asthma attacks.

Ten years ago the Royal College pf Physicians in London published the National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) which found that the majority of asthma deaths are preventable. However, since the research was published, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed over 12,000 people in the UK have died from asthma attacks and four people die from the condition every day.

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People with asthma, who struggle with symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing and coughing, should get an annual condition review, a written action plan and inhaler technique checks.

According to the charity, 31% of asthmatics were ‘disengaged’ with managing their condition, putting them at higher risk. One example of this is using a reliver inhaler three or more times a week could be a sign of untreated inflammation in the airways.

Sarah MacFadyen, head of policy and external affairs for Asthma + Lung UK, said: ‘It’s scandalous that ten years on from NRAD’s recommendations to improve asthma care, four people are still dying needlessly from the condition every day.

‘Asthma care is in crisis. People are not getting the care they need and deserve. As a result the UK continues to have one of the worst asthma death rates in Europe. We don’t want to be saying the same thing in another ten years; this is a problem we know how to fix.’

Against this backdrop, Asthma + Lung UK – the only charity helping to raise awareness of the illness – is now calling on the government to introduce national targets to end preventable asthma deaths.

The charity have also said patients would benefit from new technology being introduced such as an app to help people manage and monitor their condition.

Following the news, the Department of Health and Social Care said the NHS had created an impressive lung health check programme which would detect and treat more lung conditions.

A spokesperson from the department also said: ‘We’re also looking into chronic respiratory diseases, including asthma, as part of our forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy which will allow us to ensure care is better centred around the patient.’

Looking elsewhere in the UK, a spokesperson from the Scottish government said they are doing everything they can to help stop people dying from asthma.

‘In March 2021 we published the first Respiratory Care Action Plan for Scotland which sets out our priorities and commitments for driving the prevention, diagnosis, care, treatment and support for people living with respiratory conditions,’ the spokesperson said. ‘These include developing best practice guidelines for children with asthma transitioning to adult services.’

Image: Sahej Brar

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