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Warning over annual asthma reviews

05 August 2014 09:35

More than a million people suffering from asthma are missing out on key yearly checks, a charity warns

More than a million people suffering from asthma are missing out on key yearly checks, a charity warns

A charity is calling on doctors and nurses to ensure asthma sufferers receive their yearly check-up.

The call comes as Asthma UK found almost a third of patients did not receive their annual appointment last year.

The trip to see the doctor advises patients on the use of inhalers and medicine. This yearly asthma review is "essential", so too is it important at this time of year for patients to make sure they have the correct medicine, inhalers and asthma travel insurance before jetting off on summer holidays.

A review of GP data revealed there were 3,359,612 people in England who should have had an asthma review in 2012/13. However, 1,025,539 patients did not receive one, the charity said.

This occurred in spite of NHS guidance which recommends that everyone with asthma should receive an asthma action plan as part of a yearly visit to the GP's office. It is also an opportunity to make sure the patient is using their inhaler correctly, the NHS advises.

Asthma UK's deputy chief executive Dr Samantha Walker said the fact that more than one million people are missing the vital checks is putting people's lives at risk.

She also suggests the high number of people missing out on reviews is contributing to the increasing amount of money spent on asthma cases.

Pointing out that asthma symptoms can be vastly different over the year, Dr Walker said it is "vital that doctors and nurses do everything they can to follow up with patients to review their medicines".

She also recalls how the National Review of Asthma Deaths highlighted a worrying scale of prescribing errors, reinforcing how an annual review is in the best interests of patients and doctors alike.

Dr Walker also believes there is an "unacceptably large variation" across the UK in the numbers of people attending annual reviews.

Figures show the percentage attending these appointments can be as low as 52% or as high as 79% across the country.

"We're worried this variation is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of differences in routine care", she adds.