Just 35% of people with asthma are receiving the most basic level of asthma care, according to the fifth annual asthma survey from charity Asthma UK.
The survey, which received 7,611 responses, highlighted that the number of patients receiving an asthma action plan had increased by 19.9% since 2013 but the number of inhaler technique reviews and annual asthma reviews had both reduced by 3% and 1.7% respectively, since 2015.
The survey also found that there was significant variation across the UK for people with asthma — 48.2% of people with asthma in Northern Ireland reported receiving basic asthma care compared with 27.6% in London. Inequalities also existed in relation to age, as just a quarter of people aged 18–29 received basic asthma care, compared with 41.7% of people aged 70–79.
Furthermore, it found that two-thirds of people with asthma who attended hospital did not receive a follow-up appointment within two working days, despite NICE guidance.
Anna Murphy, consultant respiratory pharmacist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said she was not surprised, but disappointed, that the levels of asthma care had not improved more over the years.
“It is a challenge in primary care to encourage patients to attend their annual review, often because the value of the review is not understood by the patient,” she said.
“Asthma is a chronic disease with variable symptoms — why attend if you perceive yourself to be well?”
Murphy added that inhaler technique is fundamental for asthma care and that was it disappointing that the percentage of patients who have had their technique checked has not increased over the last few years.
“It is the responsibility of the prescriber to ensure that the drug can be administered, but all healthcare professionals that the patients comes into contact with should ensure that the patient can use their inhaler and optimise drug administration to the lung,” she said.
The survey also found that more than half of respondents said they used some form of technology to manage their healthcare, although only 8.3% said that they used an asthma-specific app.