Ask About Asthma

Date Released - 19/09/2023

The parent of a Tameside child is helping to highlight the importance of having an asthma action plan for children and young people.

Amelia-Rose McLaughlin, 3, was diagnosed with brittle asthma after a series of visits to hospital with breathing problems.

After her first visit around the age of just three months old, Sophie Hafford estimated her daughter was visiting hospital every other week before doctors discovered the underlying cause of her illness.

A rare and serious form of asthma, brittle asthma can be life-threatening if left untreated without the knowledge of important symptoms or triggers.

Sophie is sharing her daughter’s story to help highlight #AskAboutAsthma week, an annual awareness campaign running from 11-17 September. The campaign, backed by Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust and Tameside Council, aims to raise awareness and inspire change in the way children and young people's asthma is managed.

The result has been a marked improvement in her health – and a lengthy stint without an admission to hospital.

“When Amelia-Rose’s problems first started, we assumed it was bronchiolitis but as it continued to get worse, we realised we needed to get to the bottom of it,” Sophie said.

“After lots of different tests she was diagnosed with brittle asthma, so Dr Block (Consultant in Children’s Services) and Amy Gray (Paediatric Respiratory Specialist Nurse) immediately worked with us on an asthma action plan. This included trialling Amelia on a new medication and helping me understand how to manage things on a day-to-day basis.

“The asthma plan was very useful as I knew nothing about treating the condition. It has come in very handy as I know the symptoms and understand when to get her the help she needs at the right time.”

Sophie was full of praise for the team at Tameside Hospital for the advice and support offered to her and Amelia-Rose.

“It has been a learning curve but without Amy and Dr Block, we wouldn’t have got to where we are now. Amy is really responsive, she is always there when I need her and has shown us the proper techniques about how to use an inhaler,” she said.

“The staff on the Children’s Ward have been amazing with Amelia-Rose. On every admission, they have put no less than 100% to give her the best care and also looked after me when times have been hard watching my daughter go through what she has been through.

“If your child has asthma, please go and get the help you need. We nearly lost Amelia-Rose, but the help and advice we have received has made such a massive difference.

After working closely with the family, Dr Robert Block, Consultant Paediatrician and Asthma Lead for Tameside and Glossop NHS ICFT, said: “Amelia-Rose’s case highlights how important it is for children to have a clear plan in place when dealing with asthma. By having a plan drawn up, people are up to four times less likely to have to go to hospital for asthma-related issues.

“An action plan may contain certain medications that can help, offer good lifestyle advice and information on when you may need to seek medical help in the appropriate place.

“Asthma is not life-limiting. With the correct care in place and by taking certain precautions, children and young people can live happy, healthy and active lives.”

Councillor Eleanor Wills, Tameside Council’s Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "The #AskAboutAsthma campaign plays a crucial role in educating our community about asthma and empowering them with the knowledge to manage this condition effectively. With pupils returning to school after the summer holidays, we must be proactive in addressing the rise in asthma attacks among our children and young people. By supporting this campaign, we can make a real difference in the lives of our residents."

More details on asthma, action plans and advice for parents and carers, can be found online