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GPs coping with the worst asthma rates in the world

By Robert Finch

GPs are coping with the world's worst asthma rates, seeing a massive 20,000 new cases every week, according to a major new report.

The GP caseload is five times higher than 25 years ago, according to details from the Global Initiative for Asthma report released last week.

The report, covering 80 countries, identified the UK as the asthma capital of the world with rates approaching one in four among UK adults.

It revealed GPs are holding four million asthma consultations each year with primary care organisations treating up to 25,000 asthmatics a year.

UK children were three times more likely to suffer asthma symptoms than those in France and Germany, the report said.

And incidence of wheezing is high among Scottish children with rates of 37 per cent reported in 13- to 14-year-olds ­ more than anywhere else in the world.

Scottish GPs with an interest in asthma were not surprised by the report's findings.

Dr John Haughney, chair of the General Practice Airways Group and a GP in East Kilbride, accused the Government of neglecting asthma because of GPs' success in driving down mortality over the last two decades.

Dr Haughney, who has been involved in updating BTS/SIGN guidelines on asthma management, due out next month, said: 'If everyone who needed to be seen by a health care professional came in we'd be swamped ­ we need to empower patients through self-management.'

·The full version of the GINA report 'The Global Burden of Asthma' will be published in May to coincide with World Asthma Day.

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