Croydon is the worst place in London to suffer from asthma, a new study shows.
Asthma UK’s report ‘On the edge: How inequality affects people with asthma’ revealed that people living in Croydon are more likely to be hospitalised or die from an asthma attack than those in the neighbouring borough, Bromley, which appears to be the best place in London for asthma sufferers.
Croydon has the highest hospital admission rate for asthma in the capital, with 720 people hospitalised for the condition last year. It also has the third highest number of asthma deaths in the capital.
Karen Briscoe, 56 from Croydon said: “Where I live has definitely made my asthma worse.
“My kitchen has damp in it and I overlook a main road.
“The damp and the toxic air from the road trigger my asthma.
“I’ve been in and out of hospital with my asthma but I haven’t had the care I needed.
“My GP surgery is always so busy that I can wait up to three weeks for an appointment and I’ve never had a yearly asthma review even though I know I should get one.
“It’s very frightening when I’m struggling to breathe and there are times where I think it might get so bad I might die.
“When you have asthma, you should be able to get the care you need and be in an environment that won’t make you ill, no matter where you live.”
Ms Briscoe explained that pollution, poor housing and a lack of access to basic asthma care have played a part in her being rushed to hospital with asthma attacks.
She has also spent several hours in her GP surgery room waiting for an emergency appointment and struggling to breathe.
Compared to the rest of England, London has the worst rates of basic asthma care with 72% of asthmatics in the capital not receiving the care they need.
Asthma UK’s analysis used Croydon as an example to show how where you live affects the likelihood of whether you are hospitalised or even die from asthma.
It highlighted the impact social inequalities have on people living in the poorest areas in England and how they are likely to be exposed to worse air pollution, higher smoking rates, have challenges accessing care, live in poor housing conditions and have a lower awareness of asthma management.
Asthma UK is calling on NHS England, the Government and local councils to tackle inequalities for people with asthma by ensuring there is sufficient funding for them to get the care they need, tackle air pollution and improve housing.
The director of research and policy at Asthma UK, Dr Samantha Walker, said that tackling health inequalities is meant to be a priority for healthcare commissioners, including NHS England, and that their report highlights the fact that there is still a long way to go before all people with asthma are enabled to manage their condition effectively.
Dr Walker added: “It is truly shocking that people in deprived areas are not only struggling to make ends meet but if they have asthma, they are more likely to end up in hospital or die from an asthma attack.
“We should all have an equal right to breathe.”
Dr Walker said that everyone with asthma should be entitled to live in an area free from dirty air, in decent housing that doesn’t affect their health and to get the basic asthma care they are entitled to from healthcare professionals.
Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one due to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
Every ten seconds someone in the UK has an asthma attack.
For more information about how health inequalities can affect asthma, visit www.asthma.org.uk/inequality