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Respiratory disease

Respiratory disease affects one in five people and is the third biggest cause of death in England (after cancer and cardiovascular disease). The UK is in the top 20 developed countries for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) deaths and admissions with COPD are the third most common cause of death in England, with approximately 30,000 deaths per year.

Between 10-30% of people with COPD are not diagnosed until they are admitted to hospital with an exacerbation and only 13% of eligible COPD patients are referred to pulmonary rehabilitation services (these aim to improve patient outcomes and quality of life in 90% of patients who complete a programme). The UK is also one of the worst-performing developed countries ranking 35 out of 37 for asthma deaths in the 5-to-34-year-age range.

Working with partners our aim is to ensure:

(1) Early and accurate diagnosis by supporting: 

  • targeted expansion of quality assured spirometry training 
  • diagnostic capacity and capability in primary care to improve respiratory disease diagnosis 
  • research and piloting of artificial intelligence to interpret lung function tests 
  • work investigating the evidence and implementation of Smart inhaler use. 

(2) Medicines optimisation by: 

  • supporting clinical pharmacy to review and optimise prescription and use of inhalers to optimise management. 

(3) Pulmonary Rehabilitation by supporting: 

  • RCP pulmonary rehabilitation accreditation 
  • increasing availability of pulmonary rehabilitation 
  • opportunities to test combined models of provision with cardiac rehabilitation.

(4) Self-management by supporting:  

  • opportunities for diabetes-style education programmes for respiratory conditions. 
  • opportunities for personalised care through Primary Care Network link workers
  • ‘Test and learn’ demonstrators for joint Cardiac/pulmonary rehabilitation models.  

Find out more about our Population health and prevention programme.

The Respiratory Disease elearning programme has been developed to provide an overview of respiratory care across the entire pathway and promote better patient care. It aims to provide all health and social care professionals and multidisciplinary teams with the appropriate level of knowledge, skills and experience they need to deliver effective respiratory disease prevention and care to people with respiratory disease, and those at risk of respiratory disease.

The Respiratory Diseases Toolkit aligns to the NHS LTP and provides learners with a comprehensive list of online resources that can be used to support workforce upskilling, training and development.

The aim of this guide is to provide learners with a comprehensive list of available resources that can be used to support respiratory workforce upskilling, training and development. The toolkit addresses a national gap in a central portal for respiratory disease resources. Enhancing education has been identified as a method to combat respiratory disease by strengthening healthcare systems/workforce and diagnosis (Forum of International Respiratory Societies, 2017).