Asthma is the most common lung disease in the UK. 1.1 million children are diagnosed with the condition.
Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) looked at the risks involved in the management of children aged 16 years and under diagnosed with asthma. Diagnosis and the management of asthma, particularly in children and young people, can be complex. It is important to get it right, as otherwise significant harm or death can result.
The investigation was launched after HSIB identified an event involving a 5 year old child. The child had numerous planned and unplanned (emergency) attendances at hospital with respiratory symptoms, before suffering a near fatal asthma attack. Prior to the event, the child had no formal diagnosis of asthma and issues had been identified (but not resolved) regarding adherence to treatment.
- HSIB recommends that NHS England and NHS Improvement, as a commissioning body, supports local systems to implement evidence-based interventions, such as standardised information and wheeze management plans, for the parents/ carers of pre-school children. This will be undertaken in conjunction with the British Paediatric Respiratory Society.
- HSIB recommends that NHS England and NHS Improvement reviews the recommendations arising from the National Review of Asthma Deaths to prioritise and ensure the implementation of recommendations that are outstanding.
- HSIB recommends that NHS Digital reviews the supporting information for triaging the breathless child up to 16 years of age, to determine whether there are features of life-threatening breathing difficulty.
- HSIB recommends that NHS England and NHS Improvement supports clinical experts to work with professional bodies to develop training competencies for healthcare professionals with responsibility for caring for children with suspected or confirmed asthma.
- HSIB recommends that NHS England and NHS Improvement and NHSX identify and integrate data items into information technology systems to develop a greater understanding of the risk factors present in the community
- HSIB recommends that NHSX, supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement, implements a discovery programme into the roadmap for the digital personal child health record focused on developing support, self-reporting and alerting for asthma self-care.
- HSIB recommends that Public Health England develops resources for young people and their parents/carers to raise awareness and enable them to self-manage asthma more effectively.