Severe asthma sufferers 'face widespread discrimination'

People with severe asthma face widespread discrimination, according to the findings an Asthma UK report.

The charity is calling on healthcare professionals, as well as commissioners, policymakers and others, to recognise that severe asthma can be extremely disabling. Those with the condition should be treated with fairness and respect so they receive the support they need to cope with their daily lives, it said.

The report, ‘Fighting for breath’, was jointly produced by Asthma UK and the Severe Asthma National Network. It is based on discussions with 50 people with severe asthma being treated in one of five UK hospitals.

Neil Churchill, chief executive of Asthma UK, said: ‘Our report shows that people with severe asthma are some of the most marginalised in society, living hidden lives, facing discrimination from many areas of society and missing out on vital life opportunities.

‘To ensure that people with severe asthma receive the support and care they deserve, the government must enable those affected and their carers to access the benefits they need, protect spending on specialist nurse posts, and develop and implement consistent standards for asthma across the UK.’

The reports set out separate goals for the UK’s four nations. In England, it said the DoH must publish and resource a national strategy for asthma. In the interim, emerging respiratory clinical networks should ensure asthma is a priority alongside COPD.

In Northern Ireland, resources must be made available to make sure the standards of the service framework for respiratory health and wellbeing are fully implemented, it said.

The Scottish government must, the report argues, identify and prioritise the development of clinical standards for asthma services for adults as part of the work programme of NHS Quality Improvement Scotland.

The report said the Welsh Assembly government must urgently carry out a clinical audit of the commissioning directives leading to an updating of the directives to include asthma specific standards, costed and with a realistic timeframe.

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