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Respiratory disease to be given national profile in 10 year NHS plan

Respiratory disease is to feature as a priority clinical area in a new 10 year NHS plan being developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

This news follows an announcement by the Government of increases in NHS funding over five years, beginning in 2019/20. The new NHS plan will set out how this funding will be used.  

A failure to prioritise respiratory disease at national level has been a source of frustration for the respiratory community for some time.

There is considerable morbidity and mortality from respiratory disease which does not appear to be reducing significantly and PCRS argues that there is a need for a concerted effort to improve outcomes. 

Respiratory disease impacts many areas of NHS care, especially when patients with respiratory disease have other comorbidities. Improving the diagnosis and management of respiratory disease will improve other pressure points in NHS care.

In 2017 a report on mortality in the under 75s indicated that mortality in this age group had not improved in the previous 12 months. The updated table for 2018 shows that respiratory is one of only two disease areas with deteriorating mortality over a 5 year period.  

Also it has been acknowledged that respiratory infection contributed significantly to rising acute admissions during the winter of 2017/18.

It is likely that inequalities will be a major focus in the 10 year plan for improving outcomes for respiratory disease. The importance of deprivation was borne out by the first National COPD audit in primary care, which indicated that the 10% most deprived patients were 27% less likely to have received a flu vaccination, and 7% less likely to have an MRC score recorded in the previous 12 months, than the 50% least deprived.

PCRS-UK Noel Baxter says: “This is a very exciting time for people interested in improving the quality of care for people with respiratory illness. It has been a long time coming and we should be grateful for all those within PCRS-UK and other respiratory health professional and patient societies who have worked hard for decades for this recognition and focus.

“The Lung Taskforce hosted by the British Lung Foundation, of which PCRS-UK is an active member, has been working hard over the last nine months putting together a case for improvement to policy makers over the next 2-5 years. We look forward to widespread and comprehensive implementation of better diagnosis and value based respiratory care that we have been campaigning to see for many years.”

There will be more information on these developments in the December issue of Primary Care Respiratory Update.

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