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Back to school with asthma in 2021

02 September 2021
Volume 32 · Issue 9


September is a peak time for asthma exacerbations in school-aged children. Heather Henry looks at the role of the general practice nurse in reducing this risk

Each September marks a peak in asthma exacerbations in children returning to school for the autumn term. Children and families face the challenges of disturbed asthma management regimes, seasonal infections and asthma triggers. This year presents an additional challenge, coming as it does during a global pandemic, with primary care at breaking point. This article presents a pragmatic approach to prioritising the most at-risk children.

Week 38 (generally falling in mid-September) tends to be regarded as the week when the highest number of children are admitted to local accident and emergency (A&E) departments due to asthma exacerbations.

There are a number of reasons why this happens, consisting of a mix of change of routine, environmental changes and factors affecting asthma self-management:


Back to school planning in 2021 may be hampered by a primary care system facing a backlog of care, plus a patient population who may be reluctant to access care. According to surveys by Asthma UK (2020), 27.5% of people with asthma have been avoiding or delaying receiving asthma care from their GP. Just over 60% of asthma patients said it was because they ‘didn't want to over-burden health services’, with 61.4% saying that they didn't think it was safe to use health services. Whether this has changed as society is now opening up again is hard to know.

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