Millions of patients with asthma in the UK are not getting the basic care essential to controlling their condition and preventing related deaths, warns a new report by Asthma UK.
In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma, but two-thirds are not being given basic care and there remains wide variation in the quality of services across the country.
Of particular concern, the Annual Asthma Survey 2016 Report found that seven out of ten people with asthma who end up in hospital are not given a follow-up appointment with a GP or nurse, which is key to preventing readmissions.
Also, of the 4,650 people who responded to the survey, 42 percent were given an asthma action plan last year. While this is up from 36 percent last year and 24 percent in 2013, the large number who are still being left without a written asthma plan is "concerning", as these patients are four times more likely to end up in hospital with an asthma attack, the charity notes.
Regionally, Northern Ireland was the highest performing part of the UK for the provision of basic asthma care, with nearly half (48 percent) of respondents saying they had received adequate care, while London was at the other end of the scale, with just 28 percent on target.
"Good asthma care means having a thorough asthma review, being on the right medication, knowing how to use your inhaler correctly and having a written asthma action plan," said Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UK's Clinical Lead and in-house GP. "It is worrying that basic care is not being delivered on a consistent basis, because every person with asthma should be receiving this care."
Kay Boycott, the charity's chief executive, says a digital approach is needed to help transform care delivery 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."