A new report from Asthma UK has found that deaths from asthma attacks are the highest they have been in the last decade, and have increased by more than 33% over the last ten years.
The organisation’s analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that more than 1,400 people died from an asthma attack last year, an 8% increase compared to 2017, and more than 12,700 people have died from asthma in England and Wales in the last decade.
The results have prompted Asthma UK to call on the NHS to take urgent action such as addressing the lack of basic asthma care, as this may have contributed to the rise; 60% of people with asthma in England and Wales - an estimated 2.9 million people - are not receiving basic care as recommended by national guidelines.
The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD), commissioned by the NHS and Department of Health five years ago, found that two-thirds of asthma deaths could have been prevented by better basic care.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the figures are “deeply concerning” and that “addressing this should be a priority for the government and the NHS”.
She continued, “Asthma is a common condition in general practice and GPs and their nursing teams understand the importance of carefully managing patients with asthma, including through the use of personal asthma action plans, as well as encouraging patients to undergo regular reviews.
“It is also vitally important that patients understand their own treatment and how to properly use equipment, such as inhalers, peak flow meters, and spacer devices - and GPs and our teams play an important role in ensuring patients of all ages feel more confident about managing their asthma appropriately and effectively. It is also essential that patients always have access to their prescription medication and do not allow inhalers to run out or expire before they ask for replacement prescriptions.”
Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness. The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. Asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time, although some people may have more persistent problems.