New asthma guidelines for NHS in wake of boy’s death

Communication guidelines around tracking the use of asthma inhalers on individuals “is in development”, the NHS in Essex has said following the death of a ten-year-old boy.

William Gray died in May 2021 from a cardiac arrest caused by respiratory arrest resulting from acute and severe asthma that was chronically under controlled.

He had previously suffered a nearly fatal asthma attack in October 2020.

Essex Coroner Sonia Hayes concluded that there had been multiple failings by healthcare professionals to recognise and adequately treat his asthma causing his death. She added that neglect by healthcare professionals contributed to the death.

She has since written to the Secretary of State for Health, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, the East of England Ambulance Service, Mid & South Essex NHS Foundation Trust and the asthma and allergy services at Essex Partnership University NHS Trust (EPUT) in a Prevention of Future Deaths report, highlighting issues which she believes need to be addressed.

A report from Mid and South Essex ICB has said “multiple partners” had shared their learning from the incident.

It now says guidelines around communication for the use in individuals of the blue salbutamol reliever inhalers, and underuse of the brown preventer corticosteroids inhalers is in progress.

It adds: “Communication specifically in relation to the overuse of salbutamol inhalers, and underuse of corticosteroids is in development in order to share learning widely across primary care partners, in order to trigger earlier asthma reviews for children and young people.”

Giles Thorpe, executive chief nurse for the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board said: “Some key actions have been taken that will ensure that we are supporting children and young people with asthma so they do have early reviews appropriate to prescription and administration of medication to avoid the necessities of having to be transferred to secondary care setting via ambulance.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter