Statement: Thousands of asthma deaths in UK could have been prevented

Charity says while fewer people died from asthma last year, three families still lost a loved one to an asthma attack every day. Better basic care is vital and could save lives

Date: 07 November 2017

Figures released by Northern Ireland and Statistics Research Agency, today (Tuesday, 7 November 2017) show that 40 people in Northern Ireland died from asthma in 2016. Figures released in July and August this year by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the National Records of Scotland show that a total of 1,370 people died in the rest of the UK in 2016.

The figures showed:

  • 1,410 people died from asthma in the UK in 2016 compared to 1,468 in 2015
  • 1,237 people died from asthma in England and Wales
  • 133 people died from asthma in Scotland
  • 40 people died from asthma in Northern Ireland

Responding to the news, Kay Boycott, Chief Executive of Asthma UK said:

“In the last six years, 7,761 people have died from asthma attacks in the UK. While fewer people have died from an asthma attack this year compared to last, that is still three families who have lost a loved one every day. In many cases their deaths could have been prevented.

“Two thirds of people who die from asthma attacks could have survived if they had received better basic care. This includes getting a written asthma action plan which explains how to manage their asthma on a day-to-day basis and what to do if their condition gets worse. They should also have their asthma reviewed every year to ensure they are on the right medication and check they’re taking them properly.

“Three years ago, in the National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) report 19 recommendations were made which would help to reduce avoidable risk and deaths from asthma. Only one recommendation has been implemented - that everyone with asthma has an annual review - and only 70 percent of people receive this. This is completely unacceptable.”

Donna Green, 42, a mum-of-four from Lurgan, Northern Ireland, lost her 20-year-old son, Tiernan, due to an asthma attack in January this year. She said:

“It is a comfort to learn that fewer people have died from asthma attacks this year than last. However, it is distressing to think that still too many people are dying from asthma and many are not getting the basic care that could prevent this.

“We are still completely devastated by the loss of our son. Tiernan had been diagnosed with asthma from a young age, but never really had any problems with his asthma until two years ago when he was hospitalised following a terrifying asthma attack.

“It breaks our hearts to think our precious son would still be alive if he had attended his check-up appointments and taken his preventer medicines correctly.

“I don’t want other families to go through the pain we have faced and that’s why I’m urging anyone with asthma, or parents of children with asthma, to speak to their GP to make sure they have a written asthma action plan in place. It could save lives.”


For further information, please contact:

Anna Mauremootoo, Senior Media Officer, Asthma UK
0207 786 4949 (Out of hours 07951 721393)

Notes to Editors:

Year Deaths
2003 1414
2004 1381
2005 1316
2006 1199
2007 1172
2008 1204
2009 1134
2010 1147
2011 1168
2012 1246
2013 1253
2014 1216
2015 1468
2016 1410

The Asthma UK Data Portal is an online tool for journalists to access the latest figures and trends in asthma outcomes across the UK. Information on asthma facts and statistics can also be found on our website.

About Asthma UK

  • In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
  • Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
  • Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
  • For more information about asthma please visit