Health

Asthma deaths in England and Wales ‘highest in a decade’

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Deaths from asthma in England and Wales are the highest they have been in more than a decade, according to analysis of official data.

More than 1,400 adults and children died from asthma attacks in 2018 – that's 2.5 people out of every 100,000.

The charity Asthma UK said too many lives were being cut short by a lack of basic care, such as inhaler checks.

GPs' leaders said more staff in practices were needed so doctors could spend longer with asthma patients.

But with research linking some childhood asthmas to air pollution, NHS England said it couldn't solve the problem on its own.

Nearly five million people in England and Wales have asthma, a condition that affects the airways.

It can cause breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and a tight chest.

Overall, more than 12,700 people have died from asthma in England and Wales in the past 10 years.

'He collapsed like a flick of a light switch'

One of those was eight-year-old Bailey, twin brother of Mason, from Cambridgeshire, who had mild asthma.

Their mum, Nicki Davis, 49, says Bailey's condition didn't stop him from doing the things he loved.

However, one day after school in 2017, everything changed.

"He came into my room and said, 'Mummy, I can't breathe properly.'

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"I helped him take a couple of puffs of his reliever inhaler but suddenly, like a flick of a light switch, he collapsed," Nicki says.

She screamed for help while trying to do CPR and called emergency services.

"The paramedics were working on him for over an hour but they couldn't revive him in hospital," Nicki says.

"Bailey died in front of me, at just eight years old.

"No-one should have to go through what we have.

"How many more lives have to be cut short before people realise how serious asthma can be?"

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said it was "completely unacceptable that thousands of people with asthma in England and Wales have died needlessly" from asthma attacks.

Five years ago, a national review found two-thirds of asthma deaths could have been prevented.

And, Ms Boycott added, there were still "tragic cases of lives being cut short".

Since 2013, the rate of asthma deaths has increased 17%, from 2.15 to 2.5 per 100,000 people.

In 2018, 20 children aged under 14 died from asthma in 2018, up from 17 in 2017 and 13 the year before.

The data was analysed by Asthma UK from ONS figures.

'Costing lives'

NHS England national clinical director for respiratory services Mike Read More – Source

BBC

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