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Pharmacists must collaborate to improve asthma care, experts say

Asthma UK: Pharmacists are "invaluable" for patients who need help with their inhalers

8 out of 10 asthma patients are not receiving proper care, according to charity Asthma UK.

Pharmacists should collaborate with other healthcare professionals to combat poor asthma care, asthma experts have said.

More than 8 out of 10 asthma patients are not receiving care that meets "the most basic clinical standards", according to research published by charity Asthma UK last week (November 28). 

Pharmacists could work with general practice to identify patients over-using reliever treatments, who may be at risk of an asthma attack, said Asthma UK spokesperson Emily Humphreys. 

The Asthma UK figures, based on a survey of 6,538 people between June and August, come six months after the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) called for an end to "complacency" around asthma care. "Pharmacists have an important role to play in helping to end the complacency surrounding asthma care," Ms Humphreys said. 

Pharmacists were "invaluable" for patients who needed help with their inhalers, she added. 

Nick Hunter, Nottingham LPC chief executive, agreed that pharmacists should be working more closely with general practice "rather than just GPs". "That doesn't need us to be in the surgery, there are ways we can work with them collaboratively," Mr Hunter said. 

"I agree there is a complacency surrounding asthma. It is easy to relieve symptoms and people forget there are long-term prevention treatments," he added. 

Asthma UK found wide variation of care across the UK; only 14 per cent of Londoners received care that met national standards, whereas 35 per cent of people in Northern Ireland did. 

Asthma UK chief executive Kay Boycott said there was an "asthma postcode lottery, [in which] the gamble really is life or death".  "There would be a national outcry if guidelines for other health conditions were not followed," she added. "Our research provides a snapshot but we're worried that this is just the tip of the iceberg."

The RCP's comments in May were in response to its National Review of Asthma Deaths, which found a high proportion of unnecessary deaths. 

How do you help your asthma patients get the care they need? 

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Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

What the dickens are GP practice pharmacists doing if they are not doing this work, as it escapes me what medicines optimisation pharmacist make to GP prescribing these days?

[email protected], Pre-reg graduate

""Pharmacists could work with general practice to identify patients over-using reliever treatments, who may be at risk of an asthma attack,""

Very good point. But unfortunately the buck stops here, at the level of making statements. After this, there will be no further action, till we sort out the MONEY bit. Why do these experts keep making such statements, without any substantial recommendation on how this can be realistically achieved and make sure the NHS bodies implement their suggestions.

One more conference ......... one more statement on the deaf ears of the cash strapped, GP lead NHS.

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