Asthma deaths highest they have been in decade

Charity slams 'unacceptable' rise and blames it on a lack of basic NHS care

Tuesday 13th August 2019 17:19 EDT

Asthma deaths are the highest they have been for a decade, statistics show. Data from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals fatalities from the common lung condition have risen by more than a third over the past 10 years.

Experts blame a lack of basic care, with 2.9 million (60 per cent) patients in England and Wales missing out on the annual review they are entitled to.

A Coroner ruled this contributed to the deaths of a nine and 10-year-old, who were seen by the NHS dozens of times between them, but never received an action plan on how to manage their condition. Others point the finger at climate change, with extreme hot and cold weather triggering wheezing, breathlessness and a tight feeling in the chest.

One in 12 adults (4.3 million) and one in 11 children (1.1 million) in the UK are being treated for asthma, Asthma UK statistics show. And in the US, one in 13 people have the lung condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 12,700 people died from an asthma attack in England and Wales in the past decade, the ONS data shows.

Last year alone, the condition killed over 1,400 people; an eight per cent increase from the number of fatalities in 2017. It was also a 33 per cent rise from the 1,071 deaths in 2008. The figures also show an increase in the number of men dying from the condition, with 436 men passing away last year compared to 370 in 2017.  Among the 35-to-44 age group specifically, there has been a 42 per cent rise in the number of asthma deaths in the past year.

The South East of England seems to be the worst affected. The number of fatalities rose by nearly a quarter (24 per cent) from 191 in 2017 to 237 last year.

In London, the number of deaths increased by 17 per cent from 151 in 2017 to 176 in 2018. 

Asthma UK claims 2.9 million (60 per cent) patients in England and Wales are not receiving basic care as recommended by national guidelines.

Every asthma patient is entitled to an annual review with a GP or specialised nurse.

During these sessions, a patient's inhaler technique is checked and they are given a written action plan on how to manage their condition. 

The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD), which was commissioned by the NHS and Department of Health five years ago, found that two-thirds of asthma deaths could have been prevented by better basic care. 

While asthma deaths among children are rare, there has been a few cases of young patients who have died in recent years because they failed to get the care they needed.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter