Third of patients with severe asthma admitted to hospital

Over a third of patients with severe asthma were admitted to hospital in the past year as NHS costs for treating the condition now lie at £1bn per year, a survey suggests.

A poll of 333 asthma patients found 29% were admitted to hospital at least once in the past 12 months, while four in 10 attended A&E in this time due to their condition.

The Ipsos MORI survey, commissioned by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK, also showed that just 37% of patients are referred to an asthma specialist after visiting A&E.

Dr Rob Niven of the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust said: 'By working with patients to identify and minimise the triggers and providing the right care and combination of medicines, healthcare professionals can help those with severe asthma to control their symptoms and get on with their lives.

'However it appears that we still have a long way to go before the severe forms of the condition are well managed and the day-to-day impact is minimised.'

Over 5.4 million patients are being treated for asthma by the NHS, which spends around £1bn a year on care for this group.

There were over 79,794 emergency hospital admissions for asthma in the UK in 2008/9, yet an estimated 75% of admissions are preventable.

Earlier this month NICE's advisory team blocked QOF targets for asthma following pilots.

GPs taking part in pilots complained that the indicators - to check new and existing asthma diagnoses comply with 'gold standard' guidelines - led to huge extra workload. They warned that poor turnout among patients with existing diagnosis may lead to a surge in exception reporting.

The targets, previously scheduled for the QOF 2013/14, will now be reconsidered by NICE.

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