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South Central Respiratory Programme

Your involvement needed in the National Review of Asthma Deaths - starting 1 Feb 2012

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Your involvement needed in the National Review of Asthma Deaths - starting 1 Feb 2012

Healthcare professionals across the NHS - particularly those with respiratory expertise - are being asked to get involved in the first National Review of Asthma Deaths, a year-long project starting today, 1 Feb 2012

The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD), led by the Royal College of Physicians, will look into the circumstances surrounding deaths from asthma from 1 February 2012 to 30 January 2013.

For a 12-month period from 1 February 2012, every death from asthma in the UK will be reviewed systematically and will be subject to an in-depth multidisciplinary confidential enquiry. By engaging with health professionals and family members the project will explore the individual circumstances surrounding the death – for example the medical care received, the environmental conditions, the involvement of workplace and school.

It is not clear why the number of deaths per year from asthma in the UK has not reduced significantly from around 1,200 for many years, even though it is widely accepted that there are preventable factors in 90% of deaths. The aim of the project is to understand why people of all ages die from asthma so that recommendations can be made to prevent deaths from asthma in the future.

NRAD has had the personal backing of Health Minister Paul Burstow MP

He said: 

"Asthma can be a matter of life or death. That is why the Government is funding this work to help front line professionals improve the management of the condition. 

"Led by front line staff over the next 12 months, staff from across the NHS will be reviewing asthma deaths and collecting evidence which will provide invaluable insights to delivering better care."

We are expecting the NRAD to build on previous confidential enquiries into asthma deaths in regions of the UK and to provide a more robust body of evidence on which to build our understanding of how life-threatening situations arise and how they can be avoided in future. The learning from the NRAD project will be fed back into clinical practice so that people receive higher quality care and we can reduce deaths from asthma in time, in line with the outcome on reducing mortality from respiratory diseases in the NHS Outcomes Framework 2011/12.

Play your part in the National Review of Asthma Deaths

From 1 Feb 2012:

  • Health professionals who cared for the person with asthma will be asked to provide information from their records to the NRAD team for analysis.
  • All healthcare staff – from GPs and community services to hospitals – need to keep the health records of the person concerned close to hand so that they can notify NRAD initially, then send further details to NRAD later for the confidential enquiry part of the process.


Share information about NRAD with your colleagues

The NRAD team has prepared a variety of pieces of information to help you spread the word about the project. These include:

> A leaflet about NRAD (pdf)

> A draft letter to share with primary care colleagues (doc)

> Update information about notification criteria to share in regular bulletins and -mails (doc)

Make sure that you keep up with NRAD by signing up to the regular newsletter. Do this by e-mailing nrad@rcplondon.ac.uk