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Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 9 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans she has for the provision of specialist asthma healthcare staff and care plans; (136065)

(2) what studies her Department has undertaken of the variations in rates of admission for asthma attacks across primary care trusts;

(3) what steps her Department is taking (a) to improve preventative provision for asthma and (b) to reduce the need for asthma-related emergency admissions.

[holding answer 8 May 2007]: The Department published “Supporting People with Long-term Conditions: An NHS and Social Care Model” in January 2005. The purpose of the model is to improve the health and quality of life of people with long-term conditions, including asthma, by providing:

early detection;

good control to minimise the effects of the disease and reduce complications;

more effective medicines management to reduce the number of crises; and

promoting independence by empowering patients allowing them to take control of their lives.

The new general medical services contract was launched in February 2003. The contract includes a specific quality indicator for treatment and care of people with asthma based on:

a register of patients diagnosed with, and prescribed drugs for, asthma;

a record of patients aged 8 years and over where diagnosis confirmed by spirometry or peak flow measurement; and

a record of asthma review within past 15 months.

We are not aware of the Department’s having undertaken any studies of the variation in admission rates across primary care trusts.

It is the responsibility of local health bodies to ensure they have adequate staff with the skills necessary to meet the health needs of their local population.