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Atlas highlights postcode care

Tuesday December 13th, 2011

Campaigners pledged to step up demands for improved care in some regions of the UK as the latest "Atlas of Variation" was published.

The Atlas confirms the north-west of England as a problem area for children with asthma - who face a high risk of hospitalisation.

Rates in Liverpool and Knowsley are six times those in parts of the south-east - with many other north-western districts also showing high rates.

And it shows massive differences in the prescribing of drugs for dementia. In some districts patients are 25 times as likely to receive them as in other districts.

It is the second annual publication of the Atlas. Some 120,000 copies of last year's Atlas were downloaded.

The health minister Lord Howe said: "The Atlas of Variation lets us look at how the local NHS is meeting the clinical needs of their local population.

"This will help commissioners to identify unjustified variations and drive up standards so patients are receiving consistently high quality care throughout the NHS."

The north-west's asthma challenge was also highlighted last month by an NHS Information Centre report.

In contrast prescribing of dementia drugs is high in northern England - and limited in the south east, the Atlas shows.

Emily Humphreys, of Asthma UK, said: "We are disappointed that there is still such variation in outcomes for people with asthma across England; when it comes to asthma care there really is a postcode lottery in terms of how likely you are to end up in hospital, which is particularly worrying given that we estimate that about 75 per cent of asthma admissions could be avoided with better care and management.

"NHS organisations now need to act on the recommendations in this report and ensure that they fully develop, implement and resource their plans for improving asthma care in order to enable healthcare professionals to work more effectively with patients to help them to manage their asthma."

The Atlas also shows how people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to receive top quality care in some areas of England as in others.

And the rate of patients receiving angioplasty treatment for a severe heart attack varies by eight times. This figure may be affected by rural travel times.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Diabetes | Elderly Health | Heart Health | Mental Health | NHS | UK News

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