Asthma UK bid for improved emergency care for people with asthma

World Asthma Day campaign for 1 May

To mark World Asthma Day on 1 May 2007, Asthma UK is highlighting the need for improved asthma care to reduce hospital admissions and providing an Emergency Asthma Care resource for healthcare professionals.

Asthma UK is launching a report on World Asthma Day that reveals disparities in asthma management in England and Northern Ireland, arising from inadequate service provision. It is estimated that 75% of all admissions for asthma are avoidable[i]. Of the people who have to go to hospital because of their asthma, one in four tell us they receive no information about follow-up treatment and a worrying 12% of people who have experienced an emergency visit to hospital or GP don't know what to do in an asthma attack.

In response Asthma UK is providing new Emergency Asthma Care materials which will assist healthcare professionals across the UK who work in settings where they are likely to encounter people having an asthma attack. The materials show the process of care from when a person with asthma first presents, to their follow-up arrangements and return home. It contains guidance on evidence based standards of emergency asthma care, no matter where a person with asthma is being treated, templates to adapt to individual settings (eg: assessment form, discharge letter, Patient Group Directions (PGDs) and an audit tool), training slides and patient information booklets. 

Donna Covey, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says 'Reducing unnecessary hospital admissions for asthma is a key aim for Asthma UK. One in six people with asthma who have received emergency treatment for an asthma attack need emergency treatment again within two weeks. The effects can be devastating, both physically and mentally and many people with asthma admitted to hospital live in fear of the next attack being fatal.

'Asthma also costs the NHS an average of £889m per year and caring for people who experience an asthma attack costs over 3.5 times more than for those whose asthma is well managed. It is vital that people understand that although serious and widespread, asthma is controllable and through effective asthma care unnecessary and traumatic emergency hospital admissions can be substantially reduced.'

The Emergency Asthma Care resources will be sent to around 20,000 key healthcare professionals across the UK in primary and secondary care from the 1 May 2007, including GP practices, A&E departments, respiratory specialists, ambulance trusts and out of hours services. It will be available to download from the Asthma UK website following World Asthma Day, by calling the Asthma UK's Supporter and Information Team on 020 7786 5000 or emailing

To help people with asthma avoid an admission or attack and help manage their condition, we recommend getting a written personal asthma action plan. They can be obtained from Asthma UK and should always be discussed with doctors and asthma nurses.

Activities to promote World Asthma Day are taking place across the UK and include high profile receptions at Westminster and in Northern Ireland plus information stalls, many staffed by asthma nurse specialists and other Asthma UK supporters, in main shopping centers in Wales and parts of Northern Ireland. In Scotland, Asthma UK will raise awareness around asthma at the Asthma and Respiratory Disease Research conference on 2 May.

Various fundraising activities are also being held by staff of charity of the year partner Morrisons. All funds raised go towards helping Asthma UK fund vital research into asthma and maintain services such as the Asthma UK Adviceline, which provides independent, confidential advice about asthma.

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