GPs 'can cut £4.5m from asthma bill'

PCTs could save up to £4.5 million in unnecessary hospital admissions if they commissioned more effective preventive care from GPs, data from Asthma UK suggest.

Asthma: calls for commissioning
Asthma: calls for commissioning

The charity examined emergency hospital admissions, comparing PCT performance against average admission rates. The data show that emergency admissions for asthma vary fourfold across PCTs in England, from 175 per cent above the national average to 58 per cent below it.

People in north-west England are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital for asthma as people in the east of England.

Asthma UK estimates £4.5 million could be saved if PCTs with high rates cut admissions to the national average.

Asthma UK chief executive Neil Churchill said preventive care by GPs and practice nurses would help keep people with asthma out of hospital.

'Commissioning services effectively in practices is critical for the successful management of asthma, especially in deprived areas where patients may not ask for help,' he said.

Earlier this month, GP revealed that one in three PCTs in England does not have a respiratory disease lead and half have not carried out checks backed by the DoH (GP, 16 October).

Data presented at the General Practice Airways Group meet-ing last month also showed asthma services varied across primary care organisations (PCOs). Researchers called for a respiratory lead in every PCO.

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