Study shows home-based service for acute lung patients frees NHS beds

An acute ‘hospital-at-home’ scheme for patients with lung disease could save the NHS millions if replicated nationally.


The research indicates that people with lung disease may benefit from community-based treatment

This was one of the messages from Jennifer Graves, a respiratory consultant at Dorset County Hospital, at the British Thoracic Society winter meeting held in London from 6-8 December.

Delegates heard that since January 2016, Dorset County Hospital has been treating bronchiectasis patients, who are vulnerable to infection, at home where appropriate.

A study of the multidisciplinary service, which includes physiotherapists, found that it had reduced hospital stays from an average of 9.1 days to 2.5 days, saving £1,400 per case and has proven to be as effective as purely hospital-based treatment when measured by the number of re-admissions.

Dr Graves said: ‘Our study has revealed a whole range of benefits of treating this group of lung disease patients in the community. By ensuring consultant-level involvement and careful daily monitoring by a highly skilled NHS team, we have been able to free up much needed hospital beds whilst improving care for our patients. 

‘Bronchiectasis patients are prone to recurrent infections and so have previously faced a number of two week stays in hospital throughout a year, purely to receive intravenous medication. Now we can completely treat them at home, or in extreme cases treat them in hospital for the first 48 hours and then let them continue treatment at home once that’s appropriate.’

Tool predicts asthma in children

Delegates also learned about a new predictive tool that was created to help forecast whether preschool children with early asthma-like symptoms will go on to develop the condition in later childhood.

The three-year research study examined over 20,000 UK children and found that factors that typically predict ongoing asthma symptoms were: early wheezing; allergy to house dust-mite and cats; having a diagnosis of asthma and hay-fever by age of five; having eczema or a history of parental allergies. Meanwhile, the presence of a dog in the house was linked to early asthma symptoms going away.

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