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National Review of Asthma Deaths

What we are doing

The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD), run by a consortium of asthma professional and patient bodies led by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), looked into the circumstances surrounding deaths from asthma from 1 February 2012 to 30 January 2013.

For a 12-month period from 1 February 2012, deaths from asthma in the UK were reviewed systematically and were subject to an in-depth multidisciplinary confidential enquiry. By engaging with health professionals, the project explored the individual circumstances surrounding the death, for example: the medical care received, the environmental conditions, etc.

It is not clear why the number of deaths per year from asthma in the UK has not reduced significantly from around 1,200 for many years, even though it is widely accepted that there are preventable factors in 90% of deaths. The aim of the project was to understand why people of all ages die from asthma so that recommendations could be made to prevent deaths from asthma in the future.

It was expected that NRAD would build on previous confidential enquiries into asthma deaths in regions of the UK and provide a more robust body of evidence on which to build our understanding of how life-threatening situations arise and how they can be avoided in future. The learning from the NRAD project will be fed back into clinical practice so that people receive higher quality care and we can reduce deaths from asthma in time, in line with the outcome on reducing mortality from respiratory diseases in the NHS Outcomes Framework 2011/12.

NRAD was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) on behalf of NHS England, NHS Wales, the Health and Social Care division of the Scottish government, the Department of Health, and the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS).

What we have produced

'Why asthma still kills' is the National Review of Asthma Deaths' first national investigation of UK asthma deaths and the largest study worldwide to date.

View presentations from the NRAD launch event, held on 6 May 2014 to coincide with World Asthma Day. Speakers included the NRAD clinical lead, Asthma UK's chief executive, the NHS England national clinical director of respiratory disease and several key members of the NRAD steering group.