North London Partners in health and care

Asthma. Why are we talking about asthma?

Dr Oliver Anglin
Camden GP, clinical lead on the Children and Young People’s workstream for north central London, also the clinical lead for children & young people’s asthma across London

It’s just asthma. Lots of people have it, right? Few puffs on an inhaler, not a big deal. We’ve all seen it. Well, no, actually it is a big deal.

Yes lots of people have it, lots of children have it. It’s estimated that in every classroom of children there will be 3 who experience life with this condition. These children are more likely to miss school days due to ill health, to end up in the emergency department, be admitted to hospital and sadly even die. So it is a big deal. Children with a well understood medical condition for which there are simple and yet incredible effective treatment die in London all too frequently. We also know that social background matters, children who are from a more deprived background are twice as likely to end up in hospital with their asthma than their less deprived peers.

So we are talking about asthma. In North Central London improving the lives of children, young people and their families who experience this condition is a key priority. There are many elements that can influence whether a child with asthma can live a full, symptom-free life. The skill of their doctors, the support of their schools, the availability of advice from asthma specialists when needed. There are wider issues too though – some families need more support than others beyond just good medical advice; air quality both outside and inside the home plays a roll; attitudes and awareness of others can have an influence. With all of these intermingling factors, there is no one thing that will make a change – instead we have to look at how all of these elements interact to impact the lives of children and young people with asthma.

We have come together in North Central London working with children, young people and their families, schools, hospitals, GPs, community health services, public health, pharmacies, housing, air quality teams and more and have developed a plan and a new way of working to address this problem. It will take some time but change is already happening and those to whom this matters the most are already experiencing the benefits.

If you or your child have asthma, I have 3 questions for you.

  1. Have you had a recent asthma review?
  2. Do you have a written asthma action plan?
  3. Has someone recently checked your inhaler technique to make sure you are using it correctly?

If the answer to any of these is no then please get in touch with your GP as soon as possible.