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Asthma deaths in the UK reach a ten-year high

Deaths from asthma in England and Wales are the highest they have been in the past decade, an analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics by the charity Asthma UK has shown.

Asthma deaths have increased by more than 33% over the past ten years, according to Asthma UK. The data show that more than 1,400 people died from an asthma attack in 2018 — an 8% increase compared with 2017 — and more than 12,700 people died from asthma in England and Wales in the past decade.

Asthma UK has called on the NHS to take urgent action, including addressing what it describes as a lack of basic asthma care.

The charity said that 60% of people with asthma in England and Wales — an estimated 2.9 million people — are not receiving basic care as recommended by national guidelines.

The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD), which was commissioned by the NHS and the Department of Health and published in 2014, found that two-thirds of asthma deaths in the UK could have been prevented by better basic care. Of the 19 recommendations made by the NRAD, only 1 has been partially implemented, the analysis explained.

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said the NHS must “act now to ensure that everyone with asthma in England and Wales gets basic asthma care, which includes a yearly review with their GP or asthma nurse, a check to ensure they are using their inhaler properly and a written asthma action plan”.

“The NHS needs to ensure that all healthcare professionals are providing this care to patients,” she said. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206933

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