'Community pharmacists can help prevent people from having life-threatening asthma attacks', Asthma UK has said.

Asthma UK’s head of policy and external affairs Daisy Ellis said that ‘while GPs should be the main port of call for asthma care, pharmacists often see people with asthma more frequently than GPs.’

She continued: ‘This means they are well placed to help spot the warning signs that someone’s asthma is not under control.

‘By maximising opportunities like these and working alongside GP surgeries, they can support more people with asthma to self-manage their condition and help prevent people having life-threatening asthma attacks.’

'Beneficial outcomes'

Through the Medicines Use Review (MUR) service and the New Medicines Service (NMS), pharmacists can answer questions about asthma, as well as ensuring they take their medicine effectively, helping people to give up smoking and managing their weight.

Receiving basic asthma care can help prevent people from going into hospitals and save money.

A 2017 study led by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) showed that 'pharmacists who carry out a MUR with asthma patients have beneficial outcomes on patients’ asthma control, which is cost effective compared with usual care'.

The researchers found that after three months, patients who had received the intervention were 76% more likely to have achieved good asthma control test scores compared with patients in the other group.

Variations in health care

Every year, around 1,200 people die from asthma in the UK, according to the British Lung Foundation (BLF).

The 2017 Asthma UK’s annual asthma survey revealed that only 35% of people aged 18-29 receive the lowest levels of basic care, compared with 42% for those aged 70-79.

It found that 81% people reported that their asthma was triggered by colds and flu.

The report also highlighted that someone experiences an asthma attack every 10 seconds. With unprecedented flu levels, this could mean that many more people suffer asthma attacks.

Commenting on the report, Asthma UK chief executive Kay Boycott said: ‘Changes within the NHS, a forthcoming asthma audit and new guidelines create an opportunity to improve care for people with asthma.

‘This will only happen with pressure and action at all levels.’