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Asthma: Health Services

Volume 475: debated on Thursday 15 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent steps the Government have taken to improve NHS healthcare services for asthma sufferers. (204994)

In 2004, the Department introduced a National Service Framework (NSF) for Children, Young People and Maternity Services to set standards. Copies of the NSF are available in the Library. Asthma has a specific care pathway within the NSF, which serves as a benchmark in guiding national health service commissioners in procuring efficient, effective and child/family orientated services, and also serves as a reference for appraisal by families, service commissioners and the Healthcare Commission.

The NHS Choices website, launched June 2007, contains a wide and expanding range of information about asthma to help sufferers manage their condition. This includes information on causation, preventive measures, treatments, and comparative data on primary and secondary care providers. Later this year, an asthma pathway will bring together in one place a range of information about the five stages of the condition.

Published Quality and Outcome Framework scores indicate how each general practitioner practice in England performs in the delivery of recognised best practice in asthma care against the national standard, and that of the local primary care trust.

World-class commissioning is an ambitious initiative that is being rolled out across the entire national health service, with the purpose of strengthening the commissioning of health and wellbeing services across the board. The World-Class Commissioning Programme will improve health outcomes for people with asthma just as it will improve outcomes for people with any health need or condition, through transforming the way that health and care services are commissioned.

In addition, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has appraised the following asthma treatments: inhaler systems (devices) in children under the age of five years with chronic asthma; corticosteroids for the treatment of chronic asthma in adults and children aged 12 years and over; corticosteroids for the treatment of chronic asthma chronic asthma in older children (5-15 years) and omalizumab for severe persistent allergic asthma.

Where NICE has given a positive recommendation that the NHS should provide this treatment, primary care trusts are statutorily obliged to provide funding, or asthma.