Some 5.4 million people in the UK are receiving treatment for asthma. Despite this, asthma still leads to hospital admissions (219/100 000 population) and three people die from asthma in the UK every day. Each year the NHS spends over £1 billion on asthma treatments and over one million working days are lost to asthma.
It has been estimated that 75% of these admissions are preventable and up to 90% of the deaths. Mortality rates from asthma in Finland are one tenth of those in England and Wales.
There are wide variations across and within regions of prevalence, admission rates and treatment. These variations occur in spite of highly regarded and widely read national guidance (BTS/SIGN asthma guidelines) and asthma being a key QOF target.
The recent National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) conducted by the Royal College of Physicians has identified markers of risk for mortality and poor asthma control, all of which are readily available and amenable to remedy.