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Prioritise asthma - stop preventable deaths

3 min read

Stephen McPartland MP, Chair of APPG on Respiratory Health, calls to prevent fatal asthma attacks through significant changes in the standards of routine care  

As the Chair of the All Party Group on Respiratory Health I’m passionate about the need to improve basic care for people with asthma, and join Asthma UK in helping to highlight the seriousness of a condition that affects 1 in 11 of the population of the UK.

The sort of headlines that we have seen this week, claiming that large numbers of people with asthma have been misdiagnosed, are unhelpful when we know that too many people can be complacent about asthma, and when every 10 seconds someone in the UK is having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack and tragically 3 people a day die from asthma.

I am also aware from the National Review of Asthma Deaths that tragically two out of three of these deaths are preventable. Too many people are not getting the basic levels of care and there is a great variation in standards of care across the country. It is essential that clinical standards are consistently followed. Having asthma myself, I understand it is a complex and variable condition that should be taken seriously. Anyone with asthma should continue to routinely use their inhalers and make sure they attend their annual asthma review where they can discuss their diagnosis, medications and written asthma action plan.

Across the country, we are seeing some great examples of innovation and high quality asthma care, with healthcare professionals working tirelessly to improve outcomes for people with asthma and commissioners learning from each other. There are also centres of excellence – such as the Royal Brompton in London, which provides life-saving specialist care to people with severe asthma. Additionally, the UK has some of the best asthma researchers, changing the way we think about the causes of asthma and how we can treat it. I want to thank them for the brilliant work and for the care that they show to people with asthma.

Sadly, too often there is a lack of understanding of the condition, leading to inadequate care. I have seen asthma suffer from a lack of priority by decision-makers within the NHS, and also within Government. I see it as my role to change that.

This week I will be leading a parliamentary debate in the House of Commons to celebrate the work of countless numbers of professionals in both health and research, but also to highlight to Ministers and policy makers in NHS England the need to do more to improve standards of respiratory care. For people with asthma, I want to see significant changes in the standards of routine care – things like everyone having an action plan and a standardised annual review. I want to ensure data on asthma care is available at a national level so we know where improvements in care need to be made, and I want to see greater investment in research so we can make significant advancements in understanding and treating asthma and other respiratory conditions. I hope MPs from all parties will join me in raising these important issues.

The Westminster Hall Debate on respiratory health is taking place on Tuesday 3 February, 2.30pm – 4pm. For further information please contact:

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