Asthma patients missing out on key checks, says charity

Just one in seven asthma patients in England receive all of the care measures advised by NICE and the failings are costing lives, a charity has warned.

Millions of asthma patients are missing out on key care measures, the survey suggests

Action plans, structured reviews and occupational assessments were among the 11 quality standards for asthma care set out by NICE in February.

But Asthma UK's survey of 4,967 patients found that just 14% reported receiving all of these measures.

The charity's report, Compare your care, calls on CCGs to pledge that all local GP practices and hospitals will meet the 11 care standards by March 2016, and suggested offering financial incentives to improve care.

Over a third of patients (35%) said they received less than half of the care checks, while 51% had more than half.

However, patients believed their care was better than adherence to NICE's standards suggests, with 28% rating their care as excellent and 58% as satisfactory.

Yet, only 27% of patients were asked about their job when given a diagnosis of asthma, which can help pick up hidden triggers in the workplace.

Only 22% had a written action plan, although 78% had been taught good inhaler technique. A further 26% of patients surveyed had not received an annual review.

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said the numbers of avoidable asthma deaths and hospitalisations were 'unacceptably high'.

She said: 'The NICE quality standard provides the NHS with the information and advice it needs to prevent asthma attacks and save lives, but without clear incentives to implement it, patients are telling us it is being neglected so far.'

She called for a 'full and systematic' NHS audit of asthma care in England.

Clinicians 'need more support'

Asthma UK said CCGs should make improvements to hospital discharge by introducing structured review and follow-up in primary care, incentivised through commissioning for quality and innovation (CQUIN) payments and local enhanced services.

Greater Manchester GP Dr Stephen Gaduzo, chair of the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK, said: 'Clinical guidelines are clear about what good quality care looks like. We now need to get the right support in place to enable healthcare professionals to deliver it.'

He added: 'We want to work with policy makers, commissioners, clinicians and patients to drive up standards of care and reduce the burden that asthma has on people’s lives.'

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