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Asthma UK highlights deficiencies in asthma services

By News team

The NHS needs to audit asthma services and ensure improvements are continually being made, according to a new out this week (16 October 2013) from Asthma UK.

The charity surveyed some 600 people across the UK for its “Compare your care” report and found that only one in four respondents had been given a self-management plan; one in five said that nobody had made sure they knew how to use their inhalers; and a quarter had not had a review of their asthma with their doctor or asthma nurse in the past year.

Observing that managed clinical networks in Scotland are already putting plans in place to ensure that people with asthma get the care reflected in national priorities, Asthma UK recommended: “Plans must be implemented across the UK to ensure that everyone with asthma gets care that meets standards. Healthcare professionals should receive appropriate training to deliver care in line with standards [and] better hospital discharge arrangements – which cover structured reviews and follow up in primary care – must be put in place.”

Pharmacists could provide more support for patients

Alastair Buxton, head of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said that the PSNC’s vision document describes how more support could be provided for people with asthma. “This could start by offering all people with asthma a medicines use review on a regular basis and the new medicine service when a new medicine is prescribed.

“We also believe community pharmacies could provide the annual reviews detailed in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence quality standard in order to increase the number of people receiving this element of care, and to create capacity for GPs and practice nurses to undertake other disease management activities. We are keen to test this concept in partnership with a clinical commissioning group.”

Rena Amin is joint chief pharmacist for NHS Greenwich CCG and clinical associate at Hartland Way Surgery in Croydon, where she does a lot of work with respiratory patients. Commenting on the report’s findings, she said: “The report highlights that a third of the patients are unable to use their inhalers effectively. Inhalers are the cornerstone of asthma management and hence [it is] absolutely vital that patients are taught accurately how to use their device. Pharmacists are therefore well placed to provide this service in the community, and even if the GP or practice nurse has provided that element of care it is worth re-emphasising that part of their treatment. More importantly it is crucial to check patients’ inhaler techniques.”

Self management plans provide empowerment

In addition, Mrs Amin stressed the importance of supporting asthma patients with self management plans, adding: “[These] allow patient and carer empowerment and therefore every healthcare professional involved in the patient’s asthma care should ensure they have one and they have fully understood it. It helps patients recognise signs of relapse and proactive management can be implemented without detrimental effects.”

Healthcare professionals can access more information – including downloadable asthma action plans and other self-management materials – from the .

also provides resources and tools for healthcare professionals working in primary and community care who have an interest in respiratory medicine.

Citation: Electronicjuice DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11128878

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