Britain is seriously "lagging behind" when it comes to looking after people with asthma, a healthcare charity has warned, with death rates from the condition among the worst in Europe.
Asthma UK says the number of people dying from asthma attacks is "truly shocking" and have urged healthcare professionals to "take asthma seriously" – calling for a boost in funding to find a cure.
Research by the London-based charity found that around 1,400 people died from an asthma attack in the UK in 2015 and the rates increased by more than 20% in the five years to that point.
Their analysis shows that between 2011 and 2015 the average asthma death rate in Britain was almost 50% higher than the average across the European Union.
It was worse than countries including Greece, Italy and the Netherlands and – out of 33 countries in Europe – was only lower than Serbia, Turkey, Estonia, Spain and Cyprus.
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Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said:
"It is truly shocking that so many people in the UK are dying from asthma attacks while other countries are improving – we are lagging behind."
"While we don't know for sure why the UK is performing so poorly in preventing deaths from asthma," she explains, "we think a lack of understanding could play a part."
"Asthma kills and we are urging the NHS to invest in better frontline asthma services, for people with asthma to make sure they take their medication properly – and for healthcare professionals to take asthma seriously, diagnose asthma patients effectively and treat them promptly."
'There have been times where I had to skip my inhaler because I have not been able to afford it.' Thanks @asthmauk for our latest blog which discusses the impact #prescriptioncharges have on people with #asthma https://t.co/es1gtd1yD0 pic.twitter.com/2zP9fgobZ8— Prescription Charges (@prescriptionCC) May 10, 2018
Asthma deaths per 100,000 people in the UK was around 1.83 in 2011 and 2.21 in 2015, says Asthma UK, who are working to "stop asthma attacks and, ultimately, cure asthma."
The British average across this period was 1.98, compared to 0.15 in Greece, 0.67 in Italy and 0.56 in the Netherlands – with the European Union median being 1.32 deaths per 100,000 people.
Like the UK, Spain and France also saw an increase in asthma death rates over the five year period.