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NHS England sets out plans to improve respiratory care


New funding to deliver improvements in respiratory care with a focus on reducing local health inequalities and improving prevention is promised in a report setting out how the NHS Long Term Plan will be delivered.

The NHS Long Term Plan Implementation Framework says funding will be made available to expand pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) services and test new models of care for breathlessness management in patients with either cardiac or respiratory disease and to increase spirometry training via new Primary Care Training Hubs.

The report says the NHS will progressively increase its focus on prevention over the next ten years and ensure that inequalities reduction is at the centre of all plans.

Healthcare systems must now set out how they will support local identification of respiratory disease and increase associated referrals to PR services for those who will benefit, particularly for the most socio-economically disadvantaged people who are disproportionately represented in this patient cohort.

In addition the national respiratory team will:

  • produce a national priorities initiative by NHS RightCare which will include: medicines optimisation for inhaler use, PR and accurate diagnosis of COPD
  • publish a suite of resources to support commissioners of PR including case studies on different models of PR and spirometry commissioning guidance
  • commission a review of the research and evidence on the Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Programme (LeDeR) for pneumonia-related deaths amongst people with a learning disability, to direct approaches to address inequalities amongst this patient group
  • test artificial intelligence technologies to interpret lung function tests and support diagnosis
  • review and implement COPD and asthma QOF indicators    
  • publish Network Service Specification for Medication Reviews   
  • develop a new best practice tariff asthma discharge bundle  
  • develop education programmes for respiratory diseases

Noel Baxter, PCRS Executive Chair says:  "The implementation framework for the Long Term Plan rightly focuses on prevention and tackling health inequality. Respiratory is well placed to support NHSE with this aspiration and it is good to see that much of what will be supported is fundamental primary care activity.

“PCRS will be developing tools to support our newly launched Primary Care Networks across England in which we will be delivering these aims. To get the newly appointed clinical directors off to a good start we have already developed a short document with key actions that they could start to take now"

PCRS Service Development Committee member, Stuart Shields, has written a document entitled “10 top tips for PCN clinical directors - The respiratory long term condition perspective”, to support Primary Care Network clinical directors working to improve local respiratory services.