A study from the Asthma UK Centre in Applied Research has found that asthma costs the UK health service at least £1.1 billion each year.
The findings are the result of the most comprehensive study of the state of asthma in UK to date.
The researchers used information from national health surveys and anonymised administrative, health and social care records to build a picture of asthma in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The UK-wide team, led by the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research at The University of Edinburgh, found that there were around 6.4 million GP and nurse consultations for asthma each year. More than 270 people are admitted to hospital each day because of asthma attacks.
Of the £1.1b cost of treating asthma in the UK, at least £666 million is spent on prescription costs each year. Other costs include £160m on GP consultations, £143m on disability claims and £137m on hospital care.
The researchers say their figures are likely to be substantial underestimates because they did not take into account people for whom asthma was not their main illness.
They say their findings confirm that the UK has one of the highest burdens of asthma in the world. More than 18 million people are treated for the condition at some stage in their lifetime.
Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, said:
“Despite the fact we’re spending over a billion pounds a year on asthma, many people are still not receiving care that meets even the most basic clinical standards.
It’s clear this has to change and a different approach is urgently needed. We strongly believe new technologies such as smart inhalers are the likely game-changer that could reduce asthma attacks and ease the burden on the NHS.
Supporting people to better manage their asthma with new technologies would likely lead to healthier lifestyles, reducing the need for NHS appointments and admissions and freeing up care for those who need it most.”
Read more about how Asthma UK think that technology can transform asthma care in our Connected Asthma report.