Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (114)

Patrick O'Donovan


114. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health the progress being made on implementation of the national clinical programme for asthma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14701/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE, through its Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division, established the National Clinic Programme for Asthma (NCPA), which is one of a number of chronic disease programmes aimed at bringing a systematic approach to changes in how services for patients are delivered. Asthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease in Ireland, affecting people of all ages and all socio-economic groups. Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma worldwide and current estimates suggest that there are approximately 450,000 people with doctor-diagnosed asthma in Ireland (approximately 1 in 10 of the population). The prevalence is even higher in children, with about 21% of children affected. Asthma is often under-diagnosed and uncontrolled, creating a substantial burden of ill-health to individuals. Between 35% and 50% of medical expenditure on asthma is a consequence of exacerbations, an asthma outcome most view as representing treatment failure. Hospitalisation, emergency department and unscheduled hospital visits, and use of rescue medications comprise the majority of exacerbation-related treatment costs.

The overarching aim of the NCPA is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with asthma in Ireland and to improve clinical outcomes and the quality of life of all patients with asthma. A key component is the improved management of people with asthma in primary care, thereby avoiding emergency attendance at General Practitioner out-of-hours services, emergency departments and in-patient services. The development of the Programme has been influenced by international evidence of the effectiveness of asthma management, with significantly improved outcomes focusing on improving asthma control in the community. The initial focus of the work of the NCPA has been on the development of national asthma guidelines based on international best practice, early asthma diagnosis, active asthma treatment, guided self-management and patient education.

The Programme has also developed a National Model of Care for Asthma, which details how physicians, nurses and other health professionals will work with engaged patients to make the clinical decisions most appropriate to their circumstances; and to collaborate with specialist colleagues in providing a safe, seamless patient experience within the health system in Ireland. A number of elements of the NCPA have already been implemented, including development of guidelines, an asthma education programme and patient education materials. The NCPA is listed in the HSE's Primary Care Divisional Operational Plan for 2014 and work is underway on an implementation plan for the Model of Care. The work of the Programme will ensure that patients with asthma will benefit from being part of a well-managed integrated system of care, coordinated at primary care level.