Asthma UK warns of ‘alarming variation’ in asthma hospital admissions

Author: Asthma UK

Date: May 2013

Asthma UK has expressed concern at shocking differences in the numbers of people being rushed to hospital with an asthma attack, depending on where they live. Asthma UK has launched its Compare Your Care campaign today to find out why this geographical variation exists and to demand better care for people with asthma.

Figures show a staggering 19-fold difference in children’s emergency asthma admission rates in England, with Liverpool having the highest rates for children, and Tower Hamlets having the lowest. Adult hospital admissions also vary widely, with people in Newham being six times more likely to be hospitalised with their asthma than those in Bromley.

Every day in the UK, 200 people are hospitalised because of their asthma. Three of these people will die. But three-quarters of hospital admissions could be prevented with the right care and management.

Asthma UK’s Compare Your Care campaign aims to build a picture of where people with asthma are receiving good care and where it may be falling behind. People with asthma are being urged to take an online quiz to find out if their care is meeting national standards and, if not, how they can help improve this. Rate your asthma care at www.asthma.org.uk/compareyourcare.

Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Policy and Research at Asthma UK, says: “Everyone with asthma deserves good quality care from knowledgeable healthcare professionals, irrespective of where they live. Guidelines are in place to give doctors and nurses the information and advice they need to prevent asthma attacks and save lives. But if these are not put into practice, they’re just a piece of paper. The Compare Your Care campaign will tell us for the first time how close we are to meeting the standards – and will help people with asthma to demand better care if theirs is falling short.”

According to national guidelines, everyone with asthma should receive a written asthma action plan from their doctor or asthma nurse, so they know what steps to take when their symptoms get worse. Those without an action plan are four times more likely to end up in hospital because of their asthma. However, only 12% of people with asthma actually have one.

People with asthma should also have an asthma review at least once a year, which can help them understand their ‘triggers’ and make sure their inhaler technique is correct. But worryingly, one in five patients has not been invited by their doctor or nurse to have an annual check-up.

Shannon Batt-Hilliard was a young child when she was diagnosed with asthma. Her mother Glynnis, who also has asthma, was never particularly happy with the care her daughter received in Kent, but it wasn’t until the family moved to Northampton when Shannon was five that she realised quite how substandard it had been.

She says: “The difference was unbelievable. Until that point Shannon had never been given an inhaler and we’d received no care or support following her asthma attacks. Once we were in Northampton, she was put on nebulisers, given an inhaler and referred to an asthma nurse. The doctors were far more attentive and were keen to help improve and manage her asthma.

I too have received brilliant care and fantastic medical support in Northampton so much so that I dont think I would be alive today if we hadnt moved. For us as a family, relocating was the best thing we could have done health wise and I dread to think what would have happened if wed stayed in Kent.

Asthma UK wants to see a world where no-one dies from asthma, and over the next five years, aims to halve the number of people who are admitted to hospital for an asthma attack.

Rate your asthma care at www.asthma.org.uk/compareyourcare.

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Last revised: 8 May 2015

Next review: 8 May 2018