Asthma groups in GP training priority call

Two-thirds of GPs in Wales feel that doctors' knowledge of asthma could be improved, a survey suggests.

Asthma UK Cymru's John Mathias said the findings showed asthma training is not being given the priority it deserves.

Fifty Welsh GPs were among 1,000 doctors in the UK taking part in research by Asthma UK Cymru and the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK.

But BMA Wales maintained that the quality of GPs' asthma care had risen significantly in the past 10 years.

Asthma, a condition that affects the airways, hospitalises around 4,000 people in Wales every year, said Asthma UK Cymru and the Primary Care Respiratory Society UK (PRCS).

The two groups revealed that in their survey, published to coincide with World Asthma Day 2011, more than half of Welsh GPs said that their own knowledge of the condition could be improved.

This, said the two organisations, reflected a separate PRCS survey in which more than half of GPs answered questions on British clinical guidelines for asthma incorrectly.

The groups said training was important as research showed healthcare professionals trained in asthma management achieved better outcomes for their patients.

Mr Mathias, national director of Asthma UK Cymru, said: "These findings show that GPs' knowledge should be improved and asthma training is not being given the priority it deserves."

The group urged those responsible for education and training in Wales to prioritise asthma education.

Asthma UK Cymru also said it was encouraging GP surgeries to order a copy of its Guide to Good Asthma Care for Adults and Children with Asthma.

It called for surgeries to ensure that everyone responsible for asthma care was appropriately trained to deliver it.

It revealed it was launching a Get It Off Your Chest campaign to encourage people with asthma to speak out about how asthma makes them feel and affects their lives.

In response to the survey's findings Dr David Bailey, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee GPC Wales, said it was "not unduly surprising" that a professional would concede to not being completely happy with their knowledge on any subject.

"If you are completely satisfied about your knowledge in any single field it would be a sign of complacency," said Dr Bailey. "Medicine does move forward."

Dr Bailey added: "It's fair to say the quality of general practice asthma care in this country has gone up significantly in the past 10 years."

He attributed this improvement to the NHS's Quality and Outcomes Framework - a voluntary annual reward and incentive programme for all GP surgeries - and regular updates on guidelines from the British Thorassic Society.

"Any organisation is going to want more learning to be given in their particular field and in a perfect world that would be great," said Dr Bailey.

"GPs are trying to provide best quality care across a whole variety of fields. If they were too busy training to see patients the quality of care would fall.

"There's only so much you can do in addition to the work you already do. It's a tightrope we all have to walk."

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