– Dr Penny Woods, British Lung Foundation
With mortality 50% higher than the EU average, and hospital admissions significantly more common than elsewhere in the developed world, most people working in respiratory disease today will recognise that there is considerable scope for improving asthma care in this country.
We hope that, by outlining priority areas for quality improvement, this new quality standard document will mark a significant step towards the kind of world-class care everyone working in the industry wants for the four and a half million people living with asthma across England.
We're delighted that a quality standard is now in place for asthma. This will really help to improve the quality of care provided for one of the most common long-term conditions - so its no exaggeration to say that if this is successful, it could change millions of lives.
– Emily Humphreys, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Asthma UK
We're particularly pleased to see the inclusion of personal asthma action plans. People who have an action plan are four times less likely to need to be admitted to hospital, but only a tiny proportion of people with asthma are currently offered one. Making sure this is implemented will be the next key test of asthma care in the NHS.
Asthma is a long-term, inflammatory disorder which affecting the airways. Allergic asthma is the most common type and is triggered by antibodies produced in response to environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites, or moulds.
There are currently more than 5.4 million people in the UK being treated for asthma and about 1.1 million of them are children. There were 1,131 deaths from asthma in the UK in 2009 (12 were children aged 14 years or under), which is, on average, 3 people per day.
The health watchdog wants to change the way people with asthma are cared for and improve the quality of care patients receive. Among the 11 points set out by NICE are:
- People with asthma receive a structured review at least annually
- People aged 5 years or older with a severe or life-threatening acute asthma are given oral or intravenous steroids within 1 hour of seeing a doctor
- People with severe, or 'difficult' asthma are offered an assessment by a multidisciplinary difficult asthma service
The new guidelines apply only in England.