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Better training in asthma care called for by nurse leaders

Asthma training for nurses needs to be improved according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists (ARNS) which have called for improvements today.

This is in response to the publication by Asthma UK of Patient safety failures in asthma care: the scale of unsafe prescribing in the UK.

The report raised concerns about the number of potentially dangerous prescribing errors for people with asthma, and the need for up to date and expert training for everyone who treats people with asthma.

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “It is worrying that many people with asthma are still being treated in outdated and potentially very dangerous ways. Because asthma is relatively common, many people do overlook the seriousness of the condition, and can be unaware of available effective preventative treatments.

“Nurses and pharmacists teach inhaler technique and should receive training in it to ensure that people are supported to take their medications effectively. The role of specialist nurses is vital in supporting better patient and professional education, but the number of specialist nursing posts that have been eroded in recent years is deeply concerning,” he said.

Similarly, Matthew Hodson, chair of ARNS, said: "This report sadly highlights continuing concerns, a year on from the national review, that patients with asthma may not always be receiving the best evidence-based care in terms of the drugs they are prescribed and how they are used.

"Respiratory nurses have a role to support this but so much of asthma care is undertaken in primary care that all staff have a responsibility to ensure evidence-based care is followed and all employers should ensure that staff can access asthma training," he said.