1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1.1 Communicate with patients, their families and carers, and support their mental wellbeing, signposting to charities (such as the British Thoracic Society, Asthma UK, and the British Lung Foundation) to help alleviate any anxiety and fear they may have about COVID‑19.

1.2 Be aware that severe asthma is defined by the European Respiratory Society and American Thoracic Society as asthma that requires treatment with high-dose inhaled corticosteroids (see inhaled corticosteroid doses for NICE's asthma guideline) plus a second controller (and/or systemic corticosteroids) to prevent it from becoming 'uncontrolled', or which remains 'uncontrolled' despite this therapy.

1.3 Some patients with severe asthma will have received a letter telling them they are at high risk of severe illness from COVID‑19. Tell them, or their parent or carer, to follow the advice on shielding in UK government advice on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

1.4 Tell all patients, or their parent or carer, to continue taking their regular medicines in line with their personalised asthma action plan. This includes those with COVID‑19, or suspected of having it. This is because it's important that they make sure their asthma is as stable as possible. Ensure their action plan is up to date.

1.5 Minimise face-to-face contact by:

  • offering telephone, video or email consultations whenever possible

  • cutting non-essential face-to-face appointments

  • contacting patients by text message or email

  • using alternative ways to deliver prescriptions and medicines, such as postal services, NHS volunteers, or drive through pick-up points.

1.6 If patients are having a face-to-face appointment, on the day of the appointment first screen them by telephone to make sure they have not developed symptoms of COVID‑19.

1.7 Ask patients to attend appointments with no more than 1 family member or carer, or alone if they can, to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the infection. If the patient is a child, ask that only 1 adult accompanies them.

1.8 Minimise time in the waiting area by:

  • careful scheduling

  • encouraging patients not to arrive early

  • texting patients when you are ready to see them, so that they can wait in their car, for example.

1.9 When patients with known or suspected COVID‑19 have been identified, follow appropriate UK government guidance on COVID-19: infection prevention and control. This includes recommendations on using personal protective equipment (PPE), patient transfers, transport and options for outpatient settings.