Letters

Asthma affects 3.4 million people in the UK, including one in seven children. It is a serious, and for many, lifelong condition causing significant symptoms and impairing their quality of life.

There is a perception among some health professionals that we have managed to 'get on top' of asthma but, unfortunately, the evidence shows that there is still a huge burden of ill-health caused by it.

High levels of service use among people with asthma are accompanied by low numbers with self-management plans - although the latter have an important part to play in the delivery of optimal asthma care. Asthma features in less than a third of health improvement programmes and there are few asthma strategy groups. Given that asthma prevalence is constant across regions, it is becoming clear that we could do better. It is easy to criticise but less easy to find workable solutions. The National Asthma Campaign wants to develop a national,co-ordinated approach to asthma care.

It may be that the approach could form the basis of a respiratory diseases national service framework - but that is for the future. In the meantime we need to gather evidence about good and bad practices and take views from interested NHS staff about what constitutes good care, coordinated across primary, secondary and tertiary settings. If you have advice or information to offer, please contact me.

Melanie Harper National Asthma Campaign Providence House Providence Place London N1 ONT