Care plan could save NHS millions

The huge financial and medical burden of Britain's record levels of asthma would be heavily cut if ministers introduced basic health plans for all Britain's asthmatics, scientists have claimed.

More than 5.2 million Britons suffer from asthma - the highest level in the world - costing the NHS about £850m and the economy more than £2bn each year. About 18 million working days are lost due to asthma attacks annually, and more than 1,400 people die from attacks each year.

But this week senior experts will tell a major national conference on asthma, which is being co-sponsored by The Independent on Sunday, that these costs could be dramatically reduced if ministers improved the basic care given to asthmatics.

Professor Martyn Partridge, chief scientific adviser to the National Asthma Campaign, which is also sponsoring the Royal Society of Medicine conference, will call for all sufferers from the disease to be given "personal care plans" to help them manage their illness far better.

Professor Partridge cites compelling evidence from countries such as Australia, Norway and Finland, where death rates, hospital visits and medical bills have all fallen after individually tailored "personal plans" were introduced.

The plans involve showing asthmatics how to predict when attacks will happen, how to use their drugs properly and what triggers to avoid. In Australia, every branch of McDonald's gave out brochures on how a personal plan could work.

One expert body, the Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention, reported that for every pound spent on training sufferers to use these plans, between £2.50 and £7 would be saved on drugs, medical treatment and economic losses through days off due to illness.

But in Britain, asthma specialists believe successive governments have failed to listen to expert advice about these programmes, which were first highlighted in the British Medical Journal 14 years ago. Last week, personal plans were again officially endorsed by the NHS's expert advisers on asthma.

Studies have suggested that, in Britain, as few as 3 per cent of asthmatics have these plans. But another project found this figure rose to 28 per cent for patients who had had severe attacks - suggesting that at least 3.5 million sufferers are not properly taught how to manage the disease.

Professor Partridge, professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College, admitted that doctors were also at fault for not adopting this strategy sooner, and said: "These plans can have a real impact on the suffering of people with asthma - making their lives easier and their asthma much less of a burden."

Wendy Barton, 28, a severe asthmatic who works for the National Trust and has had the disease since infancy, said she managed to cut back heavily on medication after devising her own personal plan several years ago and finding another extremely effective drug. After a history of visiting A&E once a month, she has not been in an emergency ward for two years.

Since her drugs are on prescription, the annual cost of Ms Barton's drugs for the NHS is still more than £1,550 - illustrating the heavy costs for taxpayers of the asthma epidemic. Ms Barton said: "Through experience and through knowing my condition, I have managed to reduce my drug use considerably day to day."

Professor Partridge's call will increase pressure on the Secretary of State for Health, John Reid, to step up the Government's spending on basic care for people with long-term illnesses, particularly asthma and diabetes.

CONFERENCE

'Medicine and Me: Asthma' will be held at the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London W1, on Wednesday 28 April, 12.45 - 5.15pm. £10. See www.asthma.org.uk for further details.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
News
people
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

    £32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

    Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

    £25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced