Asthma UK’s 2019 Manifesto

The 2019 general election campaign is now upon us. With so many important issues to debate, we want to cut through the noise and ensure that people with asthma are heard loud and clear.

Asthma affects 5.4 million people in the UK – that’s more than the total number of people able to vote in the whole of Scotland and Northern Ireland in the last election! Together, with your help, we want to put asthma firmly on the agenda. To make our case clear, we’ve come up with or own mini manifesto. 

1. Stop unfair asthma prescription charges

We’re calling on all the political parties to pledge to stop unfair asthma prescription charges.

2. Fund research into new treatments for asthma

We want asthma to be a priority for research funding, to allow us to continue to lead global collaborations into discovering new treatments.

3. Promote asthma care that’s supported by digital innovation

We want a commitment to progress access to technology like apps and smart inhalers, and better use of data to improve asthma care.

We’ll be asking supporters to email their election candidates when they’ve been announced – meanwhile why not submit your asthma question to the ITV leaders debate?

Stop unfair asthma prescription charges 

The prescription charges medical exemptions list was drawn up over 50 years ago, before the advent of modern, life-changing preventer inhalers. Today, outdated prescription charges are causing people with asthma to skip their medication, leading to terrifying asthma attacks and putting lives at risk.   

An estimated 1.3 million people with asthma have cut back on their medication because of the cost, which puts them at risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. Hundreds of nurses have seen their patients have asthma attacks or need emergency treatment because they can’t afford to pay their prescriptions.

To date, over 73,000 people have signed Asthma UK’s petition and 98% of healthcare professionals who answered our survey agreed the outdated medical exemptions list should be reviewed. 

We’re calling on candidates to pledge to stop unfair asthma prescription charges. No more #PayingToBreathe! 

Fund research into new treatments for asthma

Asthma can have a huge impact on people’s lives, causing repeated emergency hospital visits and even death. While conventional treatments such as inhaled and oral steroids work well for many people with asthma, around half of people with asthma – an estimated 2 million in the UK – respond poorly to these treatments. This is because different underlying triggers and mechanisms, such as air pollution and hormones, are at work in their type of asthma – known as non-T2 asthma. However, the mechanisms that cause non-T2 asthma are still, unfortunately, not well understood.

People with Non-T2 desperately need new treatments, but asthma research only gets a small fraction of the funding when compared to its impact on people’s lives. We are calling on all political parties to prioritise funding for asthma research, so that the UK can lead the global collaborations of the future and make new breakthroughs for people with asthma. 

Promote asthma care that’s supported by digital innovation

The majority of asthma care takes place in GP practices, yet Asthma UK’s annual survey shows that 60% of people still don’t get the basic care to manage their asthma, leading to avoidable asthma attacks and hospital admissions. We need a new model of digitally enabled asthma management. Lack of shared records and communication between hospitals and GPs has tragically led to a number of avoidable deaths, including in children. Yet 9 in 10 people with asthma support data sharing to improve care.  

As a result, Asthma UK is calling for better joined up data within the NHS. We want all parties to commit to fast tracking joined up digital health records across the healthcare system as a matter of urgency. In an age of incredible technological innovation, there should be no deaths caused by lack of data sharing in today’s healthcare system.