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Asthma deaths in England and Wales highest in a decade

Deaths from asthma attacks in England and Wales are at the highest level in a decade.

Asthma attack deaths in England and Wales have increased by more than 33% over the last ten years, according to Asthma UK's analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The charityis now is calling on the NHS to take urgent action, including addressing the lack of basic asthma care in GP practices and hospitals.

More than 1,400 people died from an asthma attack last year, an 8% increasecompared to 2017. 20 children under 14 died from asthma in 2018, up from 17 in 2017 and 13 the year before.

It is estimated that five million people in the UK live with the condition that triggers breathing difficulties and attacks that can be fatal.

The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD), commissioned by the NHS and Department of Health five years ago, found that two thirds of asthma deaths could have been prevented by better basic care, such as providing inhalers to patients.

However, with research linking some childhood asthmas to air pollution, NHS England said it could not solve the problem on its own.

Mike Morgan, national clinical director for respiratory services at NHS England, said: "Asthma UK worked closely with the NHS to develop proposals in our Long Term Plan, which sets out measures including better diagnosis of the condition, improved medicine reviews and stronger guidance for local health services to better support families living with asthma, all of which will contribute to more than three million people benefiting from improved respiratory, stroke and cardiac services over the next decade."

Asthma UK's analysis also revealed that more than 12,700 people have died from asthma in England and Wales in the last decade. There has been a 17% increase in the 'age-standardised' asthma death rate over the last six years.

According to their guidance: "Basic care should include a yearly review with a GP or asthma nurse, a written asthma action plan which explains how people with asthma can stay well and an inhaler technique check."

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.

There are "tragic cases of lives being cut short. The NHS must act now to ensure that everyone with asthma gets basic care which includes a yearly review with their GP or asthma nurse, a check to ensure they are using their inhaler properly and a written asthma action plan", she added.

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