Two thirds of asthma patients not getting basic care, charity warns
Millions of asthma patients are not receiving basic levels of care to keep their condition in check, a charity has warned.
Two thirds of sufferers are not being given fundamental care that is needed to manage their condition, Asthma UK said.
This is around 3.6 million people across the UK.
Full provision of this care would "reduce the impact of asthma, reduce hospital admissions and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people", according to a new report by the charity.
Basic care includes having an appropriate asthma review at least once a year, or more for severe cases and children, being on the right medication and knowing how to use it and having a written asthma action plan.
The Annual Asthma Survey, based on responses from 4,650 patients from around the UK, found that there is variation in the proportion of people receiving basic care across the country - with some areas "lagging behind others".
Patients in Northern Ireland appeared to get the best basic care, where 47.6% patients received all elements of recommended care.
The lowest proportion was in London, where just 27.5% patients received this care.
But the authors cautioned that it is not just this basic care that is "failing people with asthma".
The report states that seven out of 10 patients who required hospital care or out-of-hours treatment did not have a follow-up appointment.
The authors said: "Correct discharge arrangements after a hospital stay for asthma saves lives, and this is a particularly worrying finding."
There are around 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK.
In 2015, 1,468 people died from the condition - the highest number for more than a decade.
The charity said that two thirds of asthma deaths are preventable with the right basic care.
"It is worrying that basic care is not being delivered on a consistent basis, because every person with asthma should be receiving this care," said the charity's clinical lead Dr Andy Whittamore.
Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said: "With the 2014 National Review of Asthma Deaths reporting two out of three asthma deaths are preventable with good basic care, it is hugely disappointing that the latest Asthma UK care survey shows little has changed since that damning report.
"It is clear that expecting old ways to tackle long-standing problems won't work.
"We must take a bold, new approach and take advantage of new asthma digital health solutions to transform the way asthma care is delivered and support self-management.
"Digital asthma action plans, smart inhalers and automated GP alerts are just some of the ways asthma care could be brought up to date and help reduce the risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks."
Here is a list of the proportion of patients in each region who received all elements of basic asthma care, according to Asthma UK.
:: East Midlands: 33.5%
:: East of England: 30.4%
:: London: 27.5%
:: North East: 38.5%
:: North West: 34.5%
:: Northern Ireland: 47.6%
:: Scotland: 41.1%
:: South East: 33.2%
:: South West: 34.2%
:: Wales: 32.2%
:: West Midlands: 32.2%
:: Yorkshire and the Humber: 28.1%
An NHS England spokeswoman said: "Whilst we recognise the important issues in this annual survey, we also expect patients to take shared responsibility for managing aspects of this long-term condition.
"It is important that patients consult with their GP where necessary and know how to use their medication properly.
"In future, digital solutions may improve dialogue with health professionals and ensure the widespread development of personal asthma action plans to help avoid unnecessary and costly hospital visits for treatment."