Asthma UK and PCRS warn on GP Training

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Asthma UK and the Primary Care Respiratory Society have warned about the lack of GP training in a survey they issued for World Asthma Day on May 3

A lack of training given to GPs in treating asthma is putting sufferers' lives at risk, the charity has warned.

The survey revealed that education on the condition is not a priority despite over half of GPs agreeing that the number of deaths could be reduced with better care.

Just under two-thirds said they felt public awareness of asthma could be improved, while 47% admitted their own knowledge was lacking.

This reflects Primary Care Respiratory Society survey results which show that of the GPs questioned, more than half answered questions on British clinical guidelines for asthma incorrectly.

The study comes after announcements that NHS training budgets around the UK could be at risk of being cut in the drive to reduce costs.

Yet the survey shows almost half of GPs believe that care could be bettered cost-effectively.

Hospital admissions for asthma take up a significant amount of the estimated £1 billion cost of the illness to the NHS each year.

According to the charity, emergency hospital admissions for asthma for both children and adults cost the NHS over £60 million per year, yet 75% of admissions are avoidable through effective management and routine care.

Asthma UK say this potentially means over £45 million is being wasted, a figure which could be reduced with better knowledge of the condition among GPs.

The charity wants to see national standards for care across the UK and is calling on the Department of Health to make asthma a higher priority within the new NHS.

Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK said: "These findings show that asthma training is not being given the priority it deserves, despite the fact that asthma hospitalises someone every seven minutes.

"Sadly this is not a unique situation; we know that complacency about asthma also exists among many schools."

Dr Iain R Small, Primary Care Respiratory Society UK Executive Chair, said he believes the breadth and depth of skills in asthma care has slipped in recent years, despite the evidence that asthma care and outcomes improve when clinicians receive recognised training.

He added: "The publication of national standards for asthma would be one mechanism by which the NHS could ensure that services are fit for purpose and cover all aspects of asthma care, including emergency and life threatening situations."