Nurses 'unsupported' over patient asthma action plans

Many nurses feel unsupported in delivering asthma action plans despite a government committment, according to a survey.

Nurses are dissatisfied with the current use of asthma action plans (Photograph: Jim Varney)
Nurses are dissatisfied with the current use of asthma action plans (Photograph: Jim Varney)

The survey from Asthma UK showed just 40% of nurses in the north of the UK said their practices use action plans compared with 78% in the south.

Asthma UK said personal asthma action plans have proven to reduce the risk of hospital admissions.

The survey of 200 practice nurses, who are more often responsible for asthma management than GPs, also showed that more than two thirds are dissatisfied with the current use of asthma action plans.

This is despite a government commitment to ensure that everyone with a long-term condition in England has a personalised care plan by 2010.

Asthma UK said the survey also highlighted problems implementing plans.

  • 66% of nurses said not all patients wanted a plan
  • 61% said they did not have enough time to go through personal plans with patients
  • 47% of nurses said some patients can't use the plans

Other complaints included a lack of resources, inadequate support and a lack of training for healthcare professionals about how plans can help people with asthma.

Asthma UK chief executive Neil Churchill said the survey suggested a lack of consistent standards for asthma across the UK was having a detrimental impact on the delivery of effective asthma care.

He said: 'Personal asthma action plans must be delivered by healthcare professionals with specific asthma training and must be made a part of routine clinical practice everywhere through inclusion in the QOF.'

Mr Churchill added: 'Until this is achieved, the clear lack of understanding about asthma management and the value of personal asthma action plans will continue to result in avoidable and life-threatening asthma attacks as well as costly hospital admissions.'

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