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Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what action he is taking to promote guidance for asthma sufferers to control the condition during the summer months; [113108](2) what action he is taking to improve treatment for asthma sufferers. [113197]

We are aware that the summer months can cause particular problems for patients with asthma because of factors such as high pollen counts. This phenomenon is however, well understood by both clinicians and patients so we do not feel that specific extra guidance is needed to help manage this. Patients with asthma are able to access the full range of national health service support services in both primary and secondary care settings throughout the entire year.We have welcomed guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) on inhalers for children under five in September 2000 and for older children, in the age range five to 15, on 11 April 2002.

The NICE recommendations provide clear evidence based on guidance on the most suitable inhalers for children.

A new general medical services contract agreement was launched on Friday 21 February 2003 which, if accepted by the profession, will lead to an unprecedented level of new investment in general practice to deliver a wider range of high quality services with better clinical outcomes for all patients.

The national service framework (NSF) for children is being developed to set standards for the care of children and young people to ensure they have access to good quality care. While it is not the intention to look at specific conditions in the NSF, it has been agreed that asthma, as one of the most common childhood conditions, should be used as one of the exemplars which will accompany the main NSF report. These will illustrate how the standards should be applied to ensure that services delivered to children are effective and meet their needs.

I welcome the publication of the National Asthma Campaign's Ten Point Charter. Those general practitioners who participate in the chronic disease management programme, around 93 per cent. of all GPs, are already providing services that help to meet many of the charter rights.