GPs urged to prepare as asthma in children soars

GPs must ensure all children with asthma have action plans explaining how to manage their condition when returning to school, Asthma UK has said.

Figures show a surge in hospital admissions for September last year (Photograph: SPL)
Figures show a surge in hospital admissions for September last year (Photograph: SPL)

The charity said GPs must ensure they spend 'adequate time' going through personal action plans with patients. The recommendation comes after figures from September 2009 showed a 58 per cent increase in hospital admissions for asthma in children aged 16 and under in England compared with the monthly average.

The pattern of rising admissions was also seen in September 2008, when admissions were 102 per cent higher than average.

Asthma UK said the peak was probably caused by children forgetting to take preventer medicine on returning to school activities. The charity said current provision of action plans in general practice was 'patchy'.

Erica Evans, head nurse at Asthma UK, said: 'There are a number of possible factors, including the spreading of colds and viruses, the potential stresses a new school term can bring and children not taking their regular preventer medicine.'

But Somerset GP and Primary Care Respiratory Society education lead Dr Steve Holmes said that many of the reported admissions may be may not be true asthma exacerbations.

'Experts would potentially argue this is not asthma, but viral associated wheeze,' he said. 'Hospitals should confirm admissions refer to known asthma, or presentation of wheezing.'

But he said asthma action plans were effective in promoting self care. 'If we can empower patients and parents to understand why they take preventive treatment, they have a good chance then of reducing likelihood of presentation,' he said.

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