Sunderland asthma cases on the rise

Sunderland asthma cases are increasing. (Picture posed by model). Below, Dr Mike Prentice.

Sunderland asthma cases are increasing. (Picture posed by model). Below, Dr Mike Prentice.

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ASTHMA admissions to Sunderland Royal Hospital have risen from last year, placing the city in the top 60 nationally.

There was a total of 421 cases between August 2010 and July 2011, up from 399 the previous year.

This equates to 148 incidents per 100,000 people living in the city.

The information, which was released by the NHS Information Centre, also showed a North-South divide in the UK as rates were almost 50 per cent higher in the North East than the South West.

Neil Churchill, chief executive of Asthma UK says: “It’s disappointing not to see progress in reducing hospital admissions for the 216,000 people with asthma in the North East given that 75 per cent of these are preventable.

“We are dismayed that there continues to be a massive regional divide; for example hospital admission rates in the North East are 45 per cent higher than in the South West.

“But given the high cost of asthma, high prevalence and the priority given to respiratory disease in the NHS Outcomes Framework, it is absolutely critical that regional respiratory boards in the North East and throughout England prioritise asthma as they implement their strategy.”

In Newcastle, there were 376 cases, Gateshead had 296 and South Tyneside had 212.

Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “The identification and treatment of asthma is, in almost all cases, undertaken by GPs and practice nurses.

“They work in local surgeries and unless someone is experiencing severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, this should be where patients go for advice.

“In older patients, particularly those who smoke, a condition called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can give rise to similar symptoms. Once again, this can be diagnosed in GP surgeries.

“In all respiratory conditions one of the most important things patients can do is avoid smoking.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7