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Improving asthma management

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Data from the Quality Outcome Framework shows the prevalence of diagnosed asthma is 5.9 per cent, making it one of the most common long-term conditions managed in the NHS.1 This equates to 3.4 million people in England and around 3.85 million people in the UK. The majority of asthma management takes place in primary care by skilled nurses.

In October 2014, the new British guideline on the management of asthma was released.2 The guideline is produced by the British Thoracic Society (BTS) and SIGN, with support from patient charities and the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK, among others.

The BTS/SIGN guideline meets the rigour and quality expected by NICE, and forms the basis of good asthma management in the UK. The method used to revise the guideline is to review the literature in a number of areas, not every area of the guideline each time.

Earlier this year, the National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) report was published. This highlighted key areas needing to be addressed to reduce the death rate.3 The report looked at every person in the UK who had asthma noted on their death certificate – a total of 3544 cases. The enquiry then applied eligibility criteria, and was able to examine 276 cases in detail – of these, 195 were confirmed as deaths linked to asthma. They were unable to accurately review a further 127 cases.

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