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In February 2013, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published a quality standard on the diagnosis and treatment of asthma in adults, young people and children aged 12 months and older.1
This is the 25th quality standard published by NICE since the start of the programme in 2010. NICE describes quality standards as designed to drive and measure high-priority quality improvements within a particular area of care. Each standard consists of a set of specific, concise and measurable statements, underpinned by the best-available existing evidence such as a NICE guideline or a NICE accredited evidence source—for asthma this is British Thoracic Society/Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network (BTS/SIGN) Guideline on the management of asthma.2 The published standard also includes supporting materials, such as details of definitions, data sources and the measures of quality necessary for implementation.
Among children in the UK, asthma is the commonest chronic medical condition and the commonest reason for an acute medical admission to hospital. Asthma UK estimates that there are currently 1.1 million children in the UK (1 in 11) receiving treatment for asthma. There is substantial morbidity reflected in hospital admissions, interference with activity and ongoing symptoms.3 Each year, the National Health Service (NHS) is estimated to spend around ₤1 billion treating and caring for people with asthma, with the cost of treating a child higher than that of treating an adult. So there is no real debate about the priority or the need to improve outcomes and the overall quality of life of children with asthma.4 The hope is that these standards when delivered should contribute towards improvements in the effectiveness, quality and safety and experience of care for people with asthma.
What are the asthma quality statements?
The asthma quality standard comprises 11 quality statements that taken together cover the gamut of asthma care (box 1 …