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Charity warns over asthma training

A charity has warned that people with asthma are being left at risk by poorly trained GPs.

A study conducted for Asthma UK found that 47% of GPs felt there were gaps in their own knowledge of the condition.

This was despite more than 50% of GPS highlighting better care as a way of cutting the number of asthma-related deaths.

The study also found that slightly fewer than two-thirds of GPs thought the public's understanding of the condition could be boosted.

This reflects Primary Care Respiratory Society survey results, which show that of the GPs questioned, more than half incorrectly answered questions on British clinical guidelines for asthma.

The study comes after announcements that NHS training budgets around the UK could be at risk of being cut in the drive to reduce costs.

Yet the survey shows almost half of GPs believe that care could be more cost-effective.

Hospital admissions for asthma take up a significant amount of the estimated £1bn cost of the illness to the NHS each year.

According to the charity, emergency hospital admissions for asthma for both children and adults cost the NHS over £60m per year, yet 75% of admissions are avoidable through effective management and routine care.

The charity wants to see national standards for care across the UK and is calling on the Department of Health to make asthma a higher priority within the new NHS.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Asthma UK

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Yes, definitely. GPs have become quite deskilled often, unless they have maintained active interest in asthma/COPD themselves and kept up with current guidelines. I have heard terrible things from GPs that patients have said, and they are not very up to date with most inhalers. They certainly do not educate patients in most areas. Not all GPs are included - some have made it their business to be very informed" - L Currin, Warks

"Unfortunately, asthma and allergy training among GPs is very limited. Unless there is a specialist asthma nurse or GP with a special interest there is every likelihood that the patient will not receive optimal care. I work as a primary care respiratory nurse specialist. I am also heavily involved in respiratory training of healthcare professionals. All too frequently there is a poor turnout of GPs at respiratory educational events. If we are to make any headway in improving the burden of respiratory disease in the UK, the matter of training MUST be a priority" - Christine Ennor, Dorset

"Yes, GPs definitely lack knowledge of up-to-date asthma. This is so evident when at clinical meetings with lots of GPs and qualified respiratory nurses - the questions the GPs often ask, make me squirm with embarrassment and wonder why they are so ignorant! When there is no respiratory nurse in lots of practices heaven help the patients" - Pauline Filby, Chelmsford

"I certainly do feel asthma (and COPD) training essential for GPs especially when the practice has no trained respiratory nurse. I am now retired, but wish I had a role in helping with this matter. I would gladly do so, but may not be possible" - Helen Jones, Gloucestershire