Wide variations in asthma care across the UK

Care for people with asthma varies widely around the UK, with people in some areas more likely to be offered personal asthma action plans by their GP than others, a charity has warned.

Asthma UK said data from GP practice nurses showed “huge variability” in the use of personal asthma action plans, with patients in areas with high emergency hospital admissions for asthma less likely to get an asthma action plan, despite such plans having a proven link in reducing the risk of admissions.

Only four in 10 nurses in the north of England said their practice normally used them, compared with more than three-quarters of nurses in the south, it argued.

The survey of 200 practice nurses also found that responsibility for asthma management in primary care was more often than not devolved to practice nurses rather than GPs, yet four in 10 nurses worked in practices that were not routinely offering personal action plans. This was despite a government commitment to ensuring everyone with a long-term condition in England has a personalised care plan by 2010.

Where a specialist nurse was responsible for care, more patients had a personal asthma action plan than where a non-specialist nurse is responsible, it added.

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