Asthma cases spark probe

News story
News story

HEALTH chiefs say more needs to be done in the borough to tackle asthma amid claims by a leading charity that people are dying unnecessarily because of complacency among both medical staff and patients.

Wigan borough still has higher rates of asthma than the rest of the country and following claims in a report – the National Review of Asthma Deaths – that sufferers and medics must be better at recognising the danger signs, NHS chiefs say they need to do more here in Wigan to tackle the condition.

The latest figures released by the pharmaceutical firm Novartis, found that cases are increasing by 6.57 per cent in Wigan borough – higher than the national rate of 5.9 per cent.

Asthma is a common long-term condition that can cause a cough, wheezing, and breathlessness. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. Asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time.

Dr Sanjay Wahie, Wigan Borough CCG’s clinical executive lead for medicines management and local GP, said: “Wigan Borough CCG recognises that it has a higher prevalence of asthma compared to the national average. There has been a lot of hard work undertaken by our local clinicians to identify and diagnose patients with symptoms of asthma so they can have access to the appropriate treatment and support.

“We would encourage all our asthmatic patients to attend their asthma reviews when invited by their surgery to monitor their symptoms, have a review of their treatment and to raise any issues they may be having with the treatment. It is also an opportunity to get access to healthy lifestyle support that can benefit asthmatics, for example, stop smoking services.”

Researchers compiling the report found that clinicians and patients alike had become complacent about the illness.

Since asthma symptoms can come and go, some patients may forget or feel they don’t need to keep taking their medication, for example.

The report calls for better monitoring and improved education for doctors, nurses, patients and carers.

Dr Kevin Stewart of the Royal College of Physicians, which managed the review, said: “It’s time to end our complacency about asthma, which can, and does, kill. There are important messages in this report for clinicians, for patients and their families and for policy-makers.

“We haven’t paid enough attention to the importance of good routine asthma care by clinicians with the right training and experience and the part that patients themselves play in this.

“Too often we have also been slow to detect signs of poor asthma control and slow to act when these have been present, with tragic consequences for some families.”