Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Asthmatic children 'victims of postcode lottery'

By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
Last Updated: 8:38PM BST 05/05/2008

Children with asthma are suffering from an NHS postcode lottery, with those in some areas eight times more likely to be taken in to hospital than others, figures show.
In England, asthmatic children in Liverpool were eight times more likely to end up in hospital after an asthma attack than those in Richmond, west London, according to a report by the charity Asthma UK.

Asthmatic children in deprived areas suffer more as they are less likely to take their medication and more likely to live with parents who smoke. The report said 30,000 under-15s were admitted to hospital each year after attacks, yet three quarters of these could have been prevented, saving the NHS £46 million a year.

All that was needed was regular contact with specialists, care plans drawn up by GPs and information on how to prevent attacks, said the charity.

Neil Churchill, the charity's chief executive, said the figures "must act as a wake-up call to health services and governments about the costs and consequences of unnecessary hospital admissions".