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NHS in London says take three small steps to improve lives #AskAboutAsthma

3rd September 2018

1 in 10 children and young people in London have asthma but less than half of these have an asthma management plan or know how to use their inhaler correctly.

Healthy London Partnership and NHS England London are launching a campaign #AskAboutAsthma to help improve the lives of those living with asthma in the capital.

The campaign, which is launching to coincide with children and young people returning to school and the highest peak of hospital admissions for asthma, aims to encourage all children and young people with asthma to take these three simple steps:

ASK: Do I have an asthma management plan? This helps identify the right colour inhaler and dosage, and when to seek emergency help.

ASK: Can I use my inhaler properly?

ASK: Have I had my annual asthma review?

London has high levels of air pollution. Air pollution affects everyone who lives and works in London. The most vulnerable groups like children and those with respiratory conditions are most affected. Air pollution triggers asthma for many children and young people. We can all do more to clean up London’s air.

#AskAboutAsthma is also asking all NHS organisations, businesses and residents in London to take simple steps to improve air quality and make a My Asthma Pledge in support of the #AskAboutAsthma campaign. We want people to:

Take more exercise by walking to work or school
Try car pooling and turning off engines when idle
Use non or less toxic materials in homes and offices

Vin Diwakar, Regional Medical Director, NHS England (London Region) says:

Asthma is the most common childhood condition and can be managed very well through simple measures. However, in London every year 4,000 children and young people are admitted as an emergency to hospital as a result of an asthma attack. There are some excellent standards of asthma care provided for children and young people in London, but these standards need to be delivered more consistently across all care settings. It’s really important that children, young people and their families know how they can best care for themselves and their children if they have asthma.

“As a paediatrician and Medical Director for London I am proud to see us running the #AskAboutAsthmacampaign and the support it gets from many of our partners. We want to drive up awareness of the simple steps everyone can take so children and young people can live healthier, more active lives. As we look towards winter, remember if you or your child has asthma, the flu vaccine is another simple yet important step you can take to reduce the risk of asthma.

Professor Kevin Gruffydd-Jones, respiratory lead for the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Asthma has a huge impact on the lives of many children and on hospital admissions, but the condition can sometimes take a backseat to other priorities within the NHS. 

“‘Ask About Asthma’ is a very welcome campaign to raise awareness of the condition and improve the care of children with asthma.”

Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“A child is admitted to hospital every 20 minutes in the UK because of an asthma attack but with high quality management, many of these admissions are preventable.

“Left unmanaged, asthma can be deadly so to help prevent a child becoming another statistic, parents must ensure their child has an asthma management plan, can use their inhaler properly and has their condition reviewed every year.

“Regular exercise can also help asthmatics so I’d encourage families, where possible, to swap the car for a bicycle, or scoot or walk to school – this will not only improve their health, but will reduce air pollution in the process.”

The #AskAboutAsthma campaign will run from the 3rd to 16th September.

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Healthy London Partnership formed in April 2015. It has been working across health and social care, and with the Greater London Authority, Public Health England, NHS England, London’s councils, and the NHS in London. We have united the partners to amplify the efforts of a growing community of people and organisations that believe it is possible to achieve a healthier, more livable global city by 2020.
The Mayor’s London Environment Strategy (May, 2018) recognised the high level of pollution in London. Two pollutants remain a specific concern. These are particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5 and black carbon) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). London is failingto meet the legal limit for NO2. Particulate matter is damaging to health at any level and must be reduced.The NHS Trusts: Air pollution reduction toolkitdescribes simple and free changes NHS organisations can make to reduce their contribution to London’s air pollution. The Mayor of London’s website offers more advice on simple steps everyone can take to help reduce pollution locally: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/pollution-and-air-quality
Pollution: what’s the risk to people with asthma? When pollution levels are high we all breathe in harmful substances, but if you have asthma, you’re more likely to feel the effects. Pollution is more of a risk for people with asthma because:
o pollutants, for example in traffic fumes, or wood smoke, can quickly irritate your airways and trigger asthma symptoms
o the particles found in dust, soot, smoke, and diesel fumes are small enough to get right into your lungs, making your airways inflamed and swollen and bringing on asthma symptoms
o pollution can make you more sensitive and more likely to react to your usual asthma triggers (such as house dust mites, pollen, pets, moulds and fungi). Source: Asthma UK https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollution/#Risks
Flu vaccine: Flu on top of any long-term health condition, such as asthma, can easily develop into something very serious, and you could end up in hospital. Don’t put it off – contact your GP or pharmacist to get the flu jab now. You are eligible for the free flu jab if you have asthma, so speak to your GP or pharmacist about getting the flu vaccine. It’s free because you need it.
Healthy London Partnership has developed a London Asthma Toolkit to support healthcare organisations and professionals to implement the The London asthma standards for children and young people
This September, as part of #AskAboutAsthma Healthy London Partnership is working with Key Changes – a London-based charity that provides wellbeing and recovery services through music to young people – on an #AsthmaRapChallenge that aims to get children and young people learning about how to take care of asthma in a fun and engaging way. Anyone aged 30 or under and living in a London borough can enter the competition. More details will be available from 5 September on www.healthylondon.org
For further information please contact Kim Boyle in the Healthy London Partnership press office at kimboyle@nhs.net

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