What happened to our respiratory service?

In February 2020, when the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was spreading rapidly around the world, many services available to us in primary care were put on hold. This included many specialist lung function tests including spirometry.

Although we have continued providing quality respiratory care without these lung function tests we have been unable to give a confirmed diagnosis of respiratory disease to many of our patients during this time.

We are thrilled to say that we are now able to restart spirometry as well as introduce new and advanced lung function tests for our patients as part of our new Respiratory Centre of Excellence.

Respiratory Centre of Excellence – What does this mean?

Here at Living Well we are passionate about providing the best possible care for our patients. In April 2021 we secured funding from the Wessex Academic Health Science Network to introduce a specialist lung function test measuring Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) into our respiratory pathway.

This test is not routinely available in general practice and is only usually found in certain hospital settings. Not only has this funding privileged us with this advanced technology but has also allowed us to rethink the way that we manage patients who have a diagnosed lung condition or who may have a lung condition.

We have built a small but specialised team of doctors and nurses who have spent many months developing a new pathway for our patients, in which we can deliver high quality care across our area to all patients who need it.

This team forms a Respiratory Hub, providing highly specialised patient reviews. The team will also be working with consultants from local hospitals to improve patient care across organisations.

Our Respiratory Hub team:

Kate Gillett – Respiratory Service Lead & Respiratory Nurse Specialist

Maria Smith – Respiratory Nurse Specialist

Dr Diana Church – GP with specialist interest in respiratory.

What are we doing now?

We were very excited to hold our first respiratory hub session in December which was very well received by the patients attending.

With guidance from local and national infection prevention and control teams, we have acquired equipment, including wipe clean clear screens and have a strict cleaning protocol to keep both our staff and our patients safe while conducting the lung function tests.

We have also purchased two brand new spirometers as well as the FeNO machines and have special bacterial/viral filters which prevent any cross-contamination.

In order to further reduce any risk, we will also ensure that there is a gap between patients attending. Please therefore bear with us as this does mean that we are not able to have as many patients attending per day as we would like but we have to do all we can to ensure the safety of all. But as the pandemic risk subsides the service will be able to increase the number of patients seen per day.

What does this mean for you? Frequently Asked Questions:

I have been waiting for a lung function test, when will I get one?

Due to the pandemic, we have a list of patients who are waiting for a lung function test. Our specialist team are going through the list carefully and will be inviting you in based on clinical need.

I have COPD and normally have a lung function test every year, when will I get tested again?

It is no longer recommended that you have a lung function test every year as standard. At your routine annual review with the practice nurse, if they believe that you need an updated lung function test then they will contact the respiratory hub team and you will be invited in.

I think I may have a lung condition, what should I do?

Please submit an e-consult to the practice to discuss this with a GP. They will need to take your full history and conduct some investigations prior to your attending the respiratory hub for lung function testing.

How long will I need to wait for a lung function test?

Our team will be working through the list of patients who are waiting for a lung function test. They will also be reviewing patients who are newly presenting. Please bear with us as we process this. We will make sure that priority is given to those who have a clinical need and also ensure that all our patients are made clinically safe if there is a delay to having the lung function test.

I have been invited to the Respiratory Hub for a lung function test, but it is not at my usual practice, why not?

While we do aim to make our service portable in the future, our Respiratory Hub team are providing specialised respiratory care with a lot of highly specialised equipment and we are very fortunate to have this available in our community, rather than having to travel to a hospital to access this service. While we appreciate that it may be somewhat further than you are used to travelling, we hope that you can also see the benefit that this service will have for all our patients.

How do I learn more about COPD or asthma?

The British Lung Foundation Website and Asthma UK website have lots of information about COPD, Asthma, Long COVID and other lung conditions.

If you have non-urgent questions and wish to speak to a member of our respiratory hub team, please submit an e-consult and they will be in touch.