Date Published: 6 May 2014

UK Nurses want improvement in care of asthma patients

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which is the UK professional body for nurses, has called for a "step change" in the treatment of asthma. It is in response to the publication of the National Review of Asthma Deaths that the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS) and the RCN calling forsignificant change in the way asthma is treated and understood.Both of these professional associations support the recommendations made by the national review.

As part of the review, respiratory nurses from the two organisations called for the following specific changes:

  • Investing in education and support for non-specialists who encounter respiratory illnesses regularly, for example Practice Nurses
  • Introducing a nurse lead for asthma in every Clinical Commissioning Group.

Nurses' leaders have commented on the National Review of Asthma Deaths:

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said:

" The tragic waste of life outlined in this report is shocking. The death of every one of these people is a tragedy for their families and friends and for the wider community, as most could have been helped with consistent access to the best care.
_ Specialist nurses can help people living with asthma to manage and understand their condition, keeping them well and out of hospital. Sadly this report shows that respiratory illnesses are often overlooked as a poor relation to other public health issues.
_ A step change in treatment is needed. Everyone with asthma should have a personal treatment plan and a clear idea of what they can do to manage their condition as well as knowing when and how to call for help.
_ Unmanaged, asthma too often proves fatal, and the NHS must focus on helping patients to understand their condition better and to use their medication effectively. Without proper support, flare ups can too easily become emergencies and potential tragedies

Rebecca Sherrington, Chair, Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists, said:

" Respiratory disease affects one in five people in the UK, and asthma is among the most common. The expertise does exist to provide meaningful help when people most need it.
_ It will take a co-ordinated effort to ensure that there are enough specialist nurses, and enough training for all other clinical staff. Not delivering these improvements is simply not an option if we are to prevent more individuals dying needlessly

Source: Royal College of Nursing (RCN), UK.
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